CALGARY (660 NEWS) — In a press conference billed as an update on his recent trade missions to Quebec and Washington, D.C., Alberta Premier Jason Kenney lashed out at the NDP, the federal government, and protestors opposing natural resource projects in Canada.
Speaking at the McDougall Centre in Calgary, Kenney started off by announcing that the government had sold off contracts set up by the previous NDP government to increase crude by rail shipments.
Rachel Notley announced plans last February to move up to 120,000 barrels of oil a day under deals with Canada’s two major railways, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.
Kenney, whose United Conservatives won the election a few months later, promised to get rid of the contracts and leave it to the private sector to move Alberta’s oil to market.
He says the NDP’s rail deals would have cost the government $10.6 billion and brought in revenues of $8.8 billion for a loss of $1.8 billion.
He says the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Corp. has negotiated sales that will mean a loss of $1.3 billion.
Kenney says details of who is buying the contracts and on what terms are not being released yet because of commercial confidentiality.
He says the NDP is responsible for the hit to provincial coffers.
“They never should have made this deal. The private sector was willing to move this crude by rail and has done so,” Kenney said.
“(Former premier) Rachel Notley is entirely responsible for the deal, for its net cost, for the loss. We, however, have managed to limit the damage, reduce the damage by $500 million.”
Moving up one level of government, Kenney then discussed the Teck Frontier Mine project as a decision on the proposal is expected from the federal government some time this month.
Kenney said the project is meeting strict environmental standards and cited data he mentioned in a letter he sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) February 10, 2020
However, some of that evidence has been disputed by others.
This is wrong. It will be more emissions intensive than the last 2 or 3 bitumen mines, with emissions about equal to the average of thst class. pic.twitter.com/RYNFvBvcqO
— Andrew Leach
But Kenney said while he agrees there needs to be a transition to more renewable energy in the next three to five decades, it is “utopian” to think a switch can be flicked and we can remove our reliance on fossil fuels like what will be extracted from the $20 billion oilsands project in northern Alberta.
“So in that world — not that fantasy land where we fuel the modern economy with pixie dust and unicorn farts — but in the real world, where there’s tens of millions of barrels of oil being consumed, I would rather that a progressive Canadian mining company like Teck, at the lowest end of carbon intensity for oil, was part of the source,” Kenney said.
Kenney said he “doesn’t understand” why the federal government may ignore the regulatory hurdles Teck covered in the hopes of this project being approved, and that it would help ease the industry into a transition.
“I have absolutely no doubt that if Bombardier was proposing to spend $20 billion to build a massive new airplane factory in the province Quebec, not only would the federal government be exempting them from any regulation of the CO2 output of those airplanes, but they would be falling all over themselves to offer subsidies,” the Premier added.
If the federal government does reject the project, Kenney said the province’s reaction would be “swift and serious.”
On the note of opposition, Kenney then took aim at the growing protests in response to the Coastal GasLink project in northwestern British Columbia.
These protests have now hit rail lines in B.C. and Ontario, with CN Rail threatening to close some networks as a result. (https://www.660citynews.com/2020/02/11/cn-rail-threatens-to-close-network-over-blockades/)
A court injunction has been imposed on protestors blocking construction crews in B.C., with RCMP officers dismantling the camps, but there has been no change to the rail disruptions after a similar injunction was ordered over the weekend.
“I think this is a dress rehearsal for illegal protests on pretty much any major project,” said Kenney.
He added that the project is being supported by the vast majority of indigenous councils along the route, and believes that by shipping natural gas to countries like China a global transition to cleaner fuels can be accelerated.
“If these folks were actually concerned about CO2 emissions, they would be calling for the acceleration of the Coastal GasLink project, not shutting down our economy and commuters and people going to work.”
The Premier also questioned who the protestors are, as he said the project will create jobs in indigenous communities and provide various economic benefits.
“As former Chief Councillor Ellis Ross of the Haisla First Nation — current MLA in British Columbia — said, this isn’t about indigenous rights. This is about eco-colonialism coming from people in urban southern Canada, who are projecting their own fringe political agenda on the indigenous people of northwestern Canada,” said Kenney.
Kenney said police need to enforce the law in these cases so that there isn’t a chilling effect to other proposed investments.
The Premier also did touch on his trips to Montreal and the American capital, saying it is imperative for him to advocate for Alberta’s interests abroad and he promised he would do so during the 2019 election campaign.
During his visit to Washington D.C., Kenney met with several members of the Donald Trump administration, including Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
But he was also questioned about the cost of such trips, with Kenney responding that he tries to save as much money as possible by flying economy and going to “mid-range” hotels.
“What does the NDP want me to do? Stay in youth hostels or something? Hitch a ride with Greta (Thunberg) on her boat or something?”