No tears shed for Ed, but who should get patch love now??
It’s probably pretty safe to say that there were few tears shed in downtown Calgary when Ed announced he’d be stepping down as Alberta premier before the next provincial election, whenever that might be. Ever since the royalty dust-up, Ed’s support amongst the movers and shakers of the Alberta oil and gas business has been virtually non-existent, and even the fixes brought in did little to endear Steady Eddy in our hearts and minds.
Which leaves me wondering where industry hearts and minds might be directed in the next few months and weeks, as PC faithful prepare to select a new leader, likely in a voting process expected to begin around the middle of September. So far, only Ted Morton, Doug Horton and Alison Redford have declared for the leadership run; Gene Zwozdesky says he’s thinking about it, and Gary Mar – widely perceived to be the early odds-on favourite (if he actually throws in his hat) is also mulling his options from his current Washington digs.
Among those who’ve officially signed on for the summer-long campaign, Alison Redford seems to be the furthest along in terms of organization: sources say she’s attracted some well-heeled financial support – most importantly from the oil and gas elite – and she’s already developed an outline for an energy policy aimed at making Alberta the energy capital of the world.
“Albertans are leaders,” she says on her leadership website. “But, it is no longer enough to be leaders in Canada or North America. In a world becoming smaller each day through advances in technology, we must set our sights on leading the world.”
Alberta needs to be more aggressive in marketing its leadership position, she says, to, in effect, become to the global oil and gas industry what Silicone Valley has become to the high tech industry.
And while the United States will continue to be a key market for Alberta’s oil and gas resources, diversification is the key to prosperity, she says, noting that Asia is already being courted by Alberta’s competitors. “We must access these markets and we can do so by encouraging production, keeping costs low and by supporting the development of export infrastructure off the west coast of the country,” she says.
Our focus, she says, needs to be on exporting technologies that reverse production declines and reduce the environmental impacts associated with the exploitation of non-renewable resources. And while government’s job isn’t to pick winners and losers, it can play a role in expediting the development of technology that will increase economic opportunities for Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
It’s early days in the Alberta PC leadership race, but I’d be interested in seeing what some of the other declared candidates might have in store for Alberta’s most important industry. Stay tuned.