"The fall in oil industry in Alberta needs to be back, what's your plan to invite business back to what was once a very friendly Alberta?"
Alberta used to be ranked as the 14th most friendly environment for upstream oil and gas investment in North America, just back in 2014. We've fallen from the 14th best investment environment to the 44th in North America, to one of the worst. Can you believe it? At the same time Saskatchewan has gone from, I think, seventh to the fourth best ranked jurisdiction for upstream oil and gas investment according to an annual study done by the Fraser Institute.
The NDP, our government, argues that the tough times in our oil and gas industry is the result of commodity prices, oil and gas prices, beyond our control. How does this explain Saskatchewan doing better than us in relative terms? How does it explain that about $34 billion of foreign capital has been pulled out of Alberta oil and gas over the past 12 months and redeployed to the oil and gas industry in other jurisdictions around the world? It's not like this money has moved out of the oil and gas industry, it's just moved from Alberta to the oil and gas industry in other places. Apache is moving hundreds of millions of dollars from Alberta to West Texas. Or a major company that moved billions, effectively, in capital from the Alberta oil sand to oil fields in Kazakhstan or the French national oil company, Total, that sold out its Alberta investment and instead has made a major investment in the gas fields in Iran. This is not a function of prices, it's a function of policy.
We need policies that send a message. Restoring investor confidence must be the number one job of a new United Conservative government. That's why we must begin with repealing, in my view, the carbon tax, getting our other tax rates back down as quickly as we can, establishing a credible plan to get back to fiscal balance, because the big deficits represent uncertainty for investors in the future. We have to take a weed wacker to the huge, time-consuming, wasteful regulations–often redundant regulations–that are holding back investment in Alberta. People in the oil patch tell me frequently that they can be approved in Texas in a week, while it takes months to get approved in Alberta.
We need to massively increase our efforts to explain the importance of these pipelines to our fellow Canadians. There was an encouraging poll that came out recently showing that the vast majority of Quebeckers are actually in favor of buying Canadian rather than foreign oil and gas, but they just don't know the degree to which they're actually consuming foreign oil as opposed to Canadian oil. I speak French. If I was the premier right now, I'd be spending at least a couple of days every month going up and down the proposed energy east pipeline route speaking to every Chamber of Commerce, and Town and City Council, college and university, open line radio show, newspaper editorial boards making the case for our energy industry. They don't know the degree to which their prosperity is dependent on it, how the equalization payments that they receive. The jobs that are created indirectly to support our energy industry.
We need to massively increase our advocacy efforts, and then, ultimately, we need to find points of leverage. If we can find ways to demonstrate that we really mean business, then we should do so. If that means, for example, being prepared to slow down permits that ship Canadian energy products to other parts of the country right now so they realize the degree of their dependency on our industry, then I think we should be prepared to do that as a last resort.