Capturing opportunities is the phrase Conservative MLA Cal Dallas, representing Red Deer South, repeats most often when discussing his recent visits with policy makers in the United States.
Alberta’s Minister of Intergovernmental and International Relations, Dallas recently returned to his Edmonton office after spending most of the previous two weeks attending conferences in Alaska and Idaho.
While the Council of State Governments National conference in Alaska involved discussion of broad issues with legislators from all 50 states, the Intermountain Energy Summit in Idaho Falls was more tightly focused on issues relevant to energy production and sustainability in the western states and provinces.
“I’m attending these missions to tell the Alberta story and to build relationships and to engage people about the opportunities that we have,” Dallas said from Edmonton.
One-third of Alberta’s gross domestic product comes from exports, with the bulk of that trade involving customers in the US.
“Last year, our exports were a little bit over $103 billion. A huge component of that is exports to the United States. In fact, five individual states are larger trading partners with Alberta than the next largest country or the country with the next largest exports.”
The CSG National conference in Alaska provided an opportunity to discuss challenges arising in various regions of the U.S. and offer the means through which Alberta can help meet those challenges, said Dallas.
Every opportunity was taken to discuss the kinds of things Alberta is working on and how its assets feed into and perhaps address some of the challenges state legislators face in their own jurisdictions, he said.
“It’s much broader than energy, but part of that Alberta story is about energy.”
Dallas said discussions of electrical transmission played a large role in the Idaho summit.
Energy production is very expensive in Alberta compared to some of its neighbouring jurisdictions and the province continues to import far more electricity than it sells, he said. It doesn’t make sense to build transmission lines to export a product into jurisdictions that can produce electricity more cheaply on their own, he said.
While former premier Alison Redford has been sharply criticized and recently resigned her seat over lavish travel expenses, Dallas said his travel costs are much more tightly controlled.
He said he and any of his staff who travel with him fly in economy seats on commercial airlines.
Details of expenses for his most recent trips are now being tallied and will be posted on the Alberta government website within the next 90 days, he said.