Monday, July 21, 2008

Alberta Jobs are going down the pipeline

The Edmonton Sun and Neil Waugh in particular is one of the consistently best reads in the province! nwaugh@edmsun.com

Premier Ed Stelmach did a good job promoting Alberta's economic interests at the Council of the Federation meeting in Quebec City last week.
He fought off attempts by eastern premiers, Ontario's Dalton McGuinty and Quebec's Jean Charest, in particular, to pressure Ottawa to set up a cap and trade scheme for greenhouse gases.

It's a "pay-to-pollute" boondoggle that would transfer billions of dollars out of the Alberta economy - not unlike Stephane Dion's suspicious Green Shift initiative designed to win votes in southern Ontario at the expense of our industry.

Stelmach did a good sales job for Alberta's own greenhouse-gas plan, stressing repeatedly that he has the only program that is up and running.

Meanwhile, the eastern premiers were simply posturing for all those TV cameras.
The trouble with the premiers' meeting is that it's largely all greenhouse gas - or hot air.
However, what was happening on the home front last week was for real.

And many Albertans must be asking, "Who's got our backs?"
Clearly not Alberta's struggling Energy Minister Mel Knight.
Knight was tasked by the premier over two years ago to come up with an effective strategy to get the best bang for our energy buck.

During the PC leadership campaign, Stelmach felt the issue was so important that he compared shipping raw oilsands bitumen to the United States to stripping the soil from a farm.

Now it appears that Knight has sold the farm because of his failure to produce an effective value-added strategy.

So far, all the minister and his failing bureaucrats have come up with is a minor royalty give-away.

In the meantime, more and more bitumen is moving over the border along with thousands of permanent jobs and construction work.
Last week, three disturbing events occurred that highlighted and exacerbated the PC party's lack of will and direction.

There's going to be a $10-billion upgrader and refinery in South Dakota, of all places, designed to exclusively process oilsands production.

There's a ludicrous proposal to ship Alberta bitumen to Portland, Maine, then tanker it to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

And there's the plan for another $5-billion project to pipeline our bitumen from Nebraska to Texas.

Clearly, the Stelmach government is failing to promote long-term jobs in Alberta.
Once production leaves the province it may become problematic to get it back because of the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Scoring some political points at the premiers' gab fest may be good for Stelmach's ego - but it will do nothing to stem the flow of jobs down the pipeline.

Albertans need a tough value-added strategy and they need it now. Get busy, Mel.
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