Western premiers back call for national energy strategy

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford has received the support of her western colleagues for a national energy strategy.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford has received the support of her western colleagues for a national energy strategy.

The premiers, minus B.C.’s Christy Clark, met in Edmonton on Tuesday and emerged supporting the idea.

The specifics from Redford have been scant so far, but the premise is for a framework for all regions to work as one to develop, market and protect Canada’s energy resources.

Redford admitted there aren’t a lot of details about what the strategy would look like, but she said that’s appropriate since talks only began last fall when she won the provincial Tory leadership.

“What I hope this becomes is part of a living process in Canada,” Redford said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate today for me to be able to stand here and say we have a definitive strategy or plan that we expect everyone to be buying into.”

She said she expects the topic will be on the agenda at the first ministers meeting in July.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed some skepticism about Redford’s idea, given how national energy programs have hurt Alberta in the past, although his natural resources minister backed the idea in principle when he was in the province last week.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and B.C.’s premier Clark had also been cautious about the idea.

Manitoba’s Greg Selinger said it only makes sense to work together.

“We have oil and gas in Manitoba in small amounts. We have hydro electricity in a significant amount and we are also doing things like wind and geothermal, so for us we think by working together we actually can improve our ability to have sustainable energy regardless of the source across the provinces,” Selinger said.

Clark was not at the meeting because she was doing her office estimates in the legislature.

Jobs Minister Pat Bell represented B.C. at the meeting.

One of the issues in the runup to the meeting was how the western premiers might respond to recent remarks by federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Mulcair has said the booming resource sectors in the West are driving down jobs and investment in the manufacturing centres of Central Canada as the Canadian dollar rises.

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