Oil-rich Alberta needs Canada’s support to help it grow, province says

Oil-rich Alberta’s success is not only a boon for the western economy, but can help boost all of Canada, and that’s why Canadians need to support the province’s energy expansion plans, says Finance Minister Ron Liepert.

Alberta Minister of Health Ron Liepert

TORONTO — Oil-rich Alberta’s success is not only a boon for the western economy, but can help boost all of Canada, and that’s why Canadians need to support the province’s energy expansion plans, says Finance Minister Ron Liepert.

In a speech to a Toronto business group Wednesday, Liepert asked that Ontario and other provinces back the oilsands and help Alberta gain access to new markets with a new national energy strategy.

“We must earn the social licence from Canadians to expand and produce this energy,” he said. “There’s too much at stake not to.”

Liepert’s message is the same one delivered to Bay Street by his boss — Conservative Premier Alison Redford — a few weeks ago. Redford urged a Canada-wide strategy to boost oilsands development and support the planned new pipelines needed to get that crude to American and U.S. refinery markets.

Much of the opposition to planned pipelines to the West Coast and bigger oilsands projects has come from environmentalists and other critics, many from outside Alberta.

Meanwhile, the latest census data showed that Canada’s population — along with economic power — is increasingly heading to Alberta and Saskatchewan as Canadians are lured West by the availability of jobs.

The results released last week show that for the first time, more Canadians now live west of Ontario than east of the province — 30.7 per cent compared to 30.6 per cent. Yukon had the biggest growth spurt at 11.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011, followed by Alberta at 10.8 per cent, nearly double the national average.

But supporting Alberta’s plans, he argued, would benefit all of Canada because one-third of the economic activity created by the oilsands occurs outside of Alberta.

Liepert noted that more than 23 per cent of oilsands-related jobs are outside the province and Ontario’s manufacturing sector will benefit as it supplies everything from steel pipes to construction materials, precision machinery and other products to oilsands companies.

The greatest risk to Alberta’s booming economy by 2020 is regulatory red tape that could prevent its oil from being shipped to new markets, Liepert said.

He argues that allowing new pipeline projects to ship oil to Asia would deliver huge benefits to the entire country.

The holdup of TransCanada Corp.’s (TSX:TRP) controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. over environmental concerns “shows what can happen when you rely on one customer,” he said.

“Quite frankly we need to start paying closer attention to who else wants our oil,” he said.

China, South Korea and other fast-growing Asian countries are hungry for Canadian oil and liquefied natural gas and want to see pipelines built to the West Coast so tankers can carry the energy across the Pacific.

“No market is more important these days than Asia. Diversifying of our markets to Asia is fundamental to our country’s national interest.”

That’s why the Alberta government is supporting Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway Project across northern B.C. to Prince Rupert and U,S, pipeline giant Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans to the port of Vancouver.

“Both will deliver huge tax, economic and social benefits to the entire country,” he argued.

He dismissed the protests over the Keystone expansion as “noise” coming from “environmental extremists” and celebrities.

“We are also dealing with policies being developed by far away governments who’s goals may be noble, but who rely on exaggerated or just plain wrong information from environmental groups,” he said.

Meanwhile, Liepert also reiterated Alberta’s stance that Canada needs a cohesive national energy strategy.

“Currently, all of the provinces and territories have their own rules and regulations for energy development which makes large-scale projects cumbersome,” he said.

Just Posted

Lacombe council seeking answers about policing cost overruns

Council surprised to find out about $240,000 policing budget shortfall

Red Deer fundraiser to help educate Somali orphans on May 11

The Mother’s Day event is for all ages

These blues will get you dancing: The Overdue Blues Band performs in Red Deer Saturday

Calgary’s Brother Ray Lemelin Band is also on Elks Lodge bill

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Swole, buzzy, among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

BOSTON — Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and… Continue reading

Garner graces cover of People’s annual ‘Beautiful Issue’

NEW YORK — Jennifer Garner graces the front of this year’s “Beautiful… Continue reading

Updated: Joshua Arthur Sanford has been found, says RCMP

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Most Read