Western separatism, pipeline delays weigh on corporate mood at Alberta forum

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Ongoing environmental criticism, delays in building oil pipelines and a surge of separatist sentiment following the last federal election are hurting Alberta’s reputation, presenters at a business forum in the Alberta mountain resort town of Lake Louise said Friday.

The rise of the western Canadian separation movement or “Wexit” cost Calgary an opportunity to attract a major technology head office, said CEO Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development during a speech at the event.

“We as an organization just lost a 1,000-person company that didn’t come to Calgary, selected another city, because they’re concerned about Wexit,” she said. “So we need to tell a unified story about Calgary.”

The city was high on the unnamed firm’s shortlist of potential hosts until alarms were raised over Wexit, she said in an interview after the speech.

The company was also unhappy about the removal of some tech-friendly tax incentives in the United Conservative government’s recent provincial budget, she said.

The Canadian digital company can’t be identified because it has not yet announced the community that made the winning bid to host its new headquarters, said Moran.

Premier Jason Kenney, who also spoke at the event, said the only concern he’s hearing in meetings with investors in Houston and on Wall Street is about Canada’s inability to build pipelines to transport oil and gas to market.

“The main concern that I hear is about the lack of pipelines and market access for our energy that is the result of the foreign-funded campaign to landlock Alberta energy,” he told reporters.

“Our single greatest strategic interest is to get pipelines built and that will not happen unless we push back.”

Kenney’s government is “doing exactly what Albertans hired us to do,” he said, by launching a “fair deal” panel to look at establishing a provincial revenue agency, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force.

Many Alberta CEOs in agriculture, energy, finance and transportation sectors agree Alberta’s image now is that of a province with a struggling economy, a declining and outdated industry, a lack of innovation and a fascination with separation, said Adam Legge, president of the recently formed Business Council of Alberta.

Those negative impressions are inaccurate, but they are having an effect, he said.

“(The CEOs) all say one thing. It is hard to attract people to Alberta because of its image. Our brand has taken a hit,” he said in a speech.

Albertans need to avoid the temptation to “wallow in uncertainty,” said Ed Sims, CEO of WestJet Airlines Ltd., in a speech that touched on the Calgary-based airline’s problems with competition, the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes and passenger rights legislation.

“The more we talk about uncertainty, the more we talk about tough times, the more we manifest that reality and it becomes our new reality,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ecologist Tony Blake was among several dozen area residents who participated in Tuesday’s public hearing on the future Molly Banister Drive extension. Blake argued for preserving trail connectedness and the wildlife corridor. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Molly Banister road extension stays

A nearly nine-hour public hearing ends with a 5-3 vote for keeping the road alignment

A server wears a mask at a restaurant, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Health officials receive thousands of COVID-related complaints

About 800 to 1,000 people call health officials weekly

Shaun Janse van Rensburg, a Red Deer resident, said he is tired of changing clocks twice a year. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
After COVID, Kenney may consider referendum on daylight savings

Albertans may be divided on several issues today, but there’s a consensus… Continue reading

The COVID-19 death toll in Alberta reached 309, according to numbers posted on the province’s website Tuesday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another 422 COVID cases reported in Alberta and two more deaths

The Alberta government reported 422 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more virus… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts celebrates after a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game 6 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Best Betts: Dodgers win first World Series title since 1988

Best Betts: Dodgers win first World Series title since 1988

Wade Sira is shown in a handout photo. Sira, the leader of Saskatchewan's pro-independence Buffalo Party, says he's extremely happy with last night's provincial election results, even though no candidates clinched a seat.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Wade Sira MANDATORY CREDIT
Buffalo Party’s strong showing in Saskatchewan vote a warning to Moe: experts

Buffalo Party’s strong showing in Saskatchewan vote a warning to Moe: experts

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Christian Coleman, of the United States, celebrates after crossing the line to win the gold medal in men's 100 meter final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Nick Didlick)
World champion Coleman banned 2 yrs; to miss Tokyo Olympics

World champion Coleman banned 2 yrs; to miss Tokyo Olympics

Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther returns to the sideline after missing his fourth field goal attempt during second half CFL action against the Edmonton Eskimos, in Regina, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.  It's been a very difficult year for a number of kickers this year in the NFL, but CFL veteran Lauther continues to wait for his opportunity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor
Former Riders kicker Brett Lauther patiently awaiting opportunity to kick in the NFL

Former Riders kicker Brett Lauther patiently awaiting opportunity to kick in the NFL

Nashville SC midfielder Randall Leal, left, is congratulated by Alex Muyl after scoring a goal during the first half of the team's MLS soccer match against the Montreal Impact, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Willis gets MLS-leading 9th shutout, Nashville tops Montreal

Willis gets MLS-leading 9th shutout, Nashville tops Montreal

Kansas City mayor, star quarterback want Raptors to make Missouri temporary home

Kansas City mayor, star quarterback want Raptors to make Missouri temporary home

Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

Most Read