Stelmach wants say in climate change talks

CALGARY — Alberta will strongly lobby both Ottawa and Washington for a say in crucial climate change talks this year, Premier Ed Stelmach said Thursday.

CALGARY — Alberta will strongly lobby both Ottawa and Washington for a say in crucial climate change talks this year, Premier Ed Stelmach said Thursday.

“There’s so much a stake for Alberta and we’ll be applying a full-court press not only in elected officials, but also the U.S. administration,” he said after a fundraising dinner.

Alberta has retained former Michigan governor James Blanchard and Paul Frazer, a former Canadian diplomat who now works as a consultant in Washington, to help with lobbying efforts in the United States.

The cost of their contract will be $40,000 per month, and they’ll be retained until there’s a solid energy contract in place south of the border, said Stelmach.

“Canada and the United States will be entering into dialogue about clean energy and it’s important that Alberta has a way of ensuring the right information gets to the policy makers and the decision-makers so that they’re dealing with fact.”

Both Blanchard and Frazer have contacts within President Barack Obama’s new government, Stelmach said, and will be able to take the message to senators, governors, members of congress and the administration.

“It’s a big country, amid thousands of lobbyists in Washington. There’s so much at stake, this is a very good investment.”

Stelmach told the dinner that the province’s and the country’s future prosperity is in the balance.

“I want to be very clear,” he said. “Canada’s energy and environmental policies must enable our energy — the engine of national prosperity — to remain competitive within North America and internationally.”

He specifically mentioned a UN climate change conference at the end of this year in Copenhagen, which is expected to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The premier wrote a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this week asking for him to focus on “outcomes” as he discusses energy police with Obama and other global leaders.

The premier had said he’s encouraged that Environment Minister Jim Prentice plans to consult the provinces before the Copenhagen conference, but said the same needs to happen before talks with Obama.

Stelmach suggested several topics that Harper should take into account in any policy talks, including how to balance the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the need for a secure supply of energy.

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