Addicted to energy

The provincial government must act now on diversifying the economy before the bottom falls out on oil and gas, the head of a nonpartisan research group said in Red Deer on Monday.

Ricardo Acuna

Ricardo Acuna

The provincial government must act now on diversifying the economy before the bottom falls out on oil and gas, the head of a nonpartisan research group said in Red Deer on Monday.

Ricardo Acuña, executive director for the University of Alberta-affiliated Parkland Institute, criticizes the long reigning Progressive Conservatives for continuing to rely heavily on the energy sector to drive the economy.

“We face a situation 10 years down the road where no one will want what we are selling,” said Acuña, prior to speaking at the Red Deer chapter’s Council of Canadians annual general meeting.

“We’ll be scrambling to find something to replace it. We could be more visionary, so when we’re selling less of it or none of it, our economy is sustainable.”

Currently, about 28 per cent of Alberta’s economy comes directly from the energy sector, Acuña said.

Seven per cent of Alberta’s workers work in oil and gas, with another seven per cent in construction directly related to the energy industry.

According to the government’s own statistics, the best places to invest money for job creation are in non oil-and-gas related sectors, Acuña said.

“We have tremendous expertise and knowledge in the energy sector, so why not transfer that into sustainable energies,” Acuña added. “It would be silly for us to start investing money in manufacturing vehicles because it’s something we don’t have the expertise in.”

Alberta could be an international leader when it comes to wind and solar power.

During boom times, the government could have used its plentiful coffers to invest in green energy or more sustainable fuels. But it hasn’t, Acuna said.

“In fact, in the mid of this latest boom, we have been more dependent on oil and gas than during the Lougheed years,” said Acuna. “We’re actually going the wrong way in terms of diversifying our economy.”

Acuna hailed Peter Lougheed, premier from 1971 until 1985, for starting the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund so it could create long-term financial benefits from Alberta’s rich non-renewable resources.

But Acuna said the province has failed to invest as much as it should have.

It’s currently around $14.5 billion whereas Norway’s petroleum fund, which started 10 years after Alberta’s, is valued around $300 billion.

“If the oil and gas sector stopped providing money tomorrow to the provincial government, we’d have this great huge fund that’s generating enough interest every year to replace the amount of money we were getting (from the energy industry),” Acuna said. “That’s the vision that Norway has had in terms of making sure their economy isn’t dependent on oil and gas.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

(Photo contributed)
Red Deer’s Ernco Braves go 4-0 in opening weekend games

Braves shot out Edmonton Padres in four straight games

Love it or hate it, tequila conjures up strong feelings in many drinkers. For some, there are bad memories. But today’s premium tequilas are changing some of those perceptions. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Rethinking tequila: Premium brands aim to change perceptions

LONDON — Love it or hate it, tequila conjures up strong feelings… Continue reading

This image provided by Glenorangie shows Glenorangie's Giraffe Tin. To enjoy the occasional beverage and also help wildlife, consider Glenorangie's Giraffe Tin. The Highland Scotch maker's stills are the tallest in Scotland, as tall as a giraffe, and the collectible tin is patterned like the animal's coat. Each purchase supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. (Glenorangie via AP)
Father’s Day gifts that celebrate interests old and new

After a pandemic year in which the shape of work and play… Continue reading

Pumpjacks are shown pumping crude oil near Halkirk, Alta., on June 20, 2007.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Canada’s crude oil exports have increased 15-fold in 30 years: report

HALIFAX — The value of crude oil exports from Canada has increased… Continue reading

Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, joins others by raising her fist in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. Goodwin is a co-founder of RISE Coalition. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Minnesota court affirms approval of Line 3 oil pipeline

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed… Continue reading

Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, speaks during a news conference held by the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of airports, airlines, hotels, boards of trade and chambers of commerce, to urge the federal government to implement a reopening plan for travel and tourism, at the Ottawa Airport in Ottawa, on Monday, June 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadian business leaders demand plan to reopen borders, economy now

OTTAWA — Business leaders are calling on Ottawa to immediately lay out… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021.  The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

The national spotlight on residential schools is also highlighting a difficult question… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister, not shown, and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals move to cut debate, force vote on bill to implement 2021 budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals moved on Monday to force an end… Continue reading

Most Read