Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gave a resounding “no” Friday to the latest attempt by the Trudeau government to eliminate the Canadian oil and gas industry under the Sustainable Jobs Act.
“I remind the federal government that due to emissions reduction technologies, oil and gas sector jobs are also sustainable jobs and will continue to be so for many decades and beyond. This must be clearly recognized by the government and its new advisory panel members,” Smith said.
“Alberta will not recognize, cooperate with or enforce any attempt to phase out our province’s oil and gas industry or its workforce. This is non-negotiable.
“I look forward to upcoming discussions with the federal government to secure alignment between its and Alberta’s emissions reduction strategies. Doing so as quickly as possible will unlock hundreds of billions in investment dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs for Albertans and Canadians.”
Smith was responding to an announcement from federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson that the Trudeau government has repackaged its “Just Transition” legislation aimed at Canada’s oil and gas sector which is primarily located in Alberta. It is now called the Sustainable Jobs Act.
In a media scrum on Thursday, Wilkinson said the new legislation is all about “new opportunities” for workers that will include the fields of critical minerals, biofuels and hydrogen. He also promised that the Trudeau government was committed to “ensuring the relevance” of Canada’s oil and gas industry, in what might appear as a contradiction of the spirit and design of the act he is promulgating.
Wilkinson had few specifics on Thursday, but said it was important for Canada to maintain “smart choices” and to be a global example for sustainable jobs.
“Global financial markets are driving many of these changes, with investors looking to steer away from investments that are not consistent with the low carbon future,” he said.
Smith wasn’t having any of this, saying “As the development of Alberta’s natural resources and the regulation of our energy sector workforce are constitutional rights and the responsibility of Alberta, any recommendations provided by this new federal advisory council must align with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan.”
On Wednesday, Smith slammed Trudeau’s dictate that Canada achieve a zero greenhouse gas emissions standard by 2035, declaring it “unachievable.”
“Well, we have to fight it with every power we have. The Constitution’s pretty clear — Alberta has the right to develop its resources in it’s own way and because I’ve set an emissions reduction target that’s in line with the federal target of 2050 — then I believe the Supreme Court will side with us, but we have to fight it out and I’m prepared to defend our jurisdiction.”
Trudeau’s Just Transition legislation was pilloried by Alberta and other energy-rich provinces when media exposed a memo to Wilkinson from his department that promised oil and gas workers who would lose their jobs as a result of Trueau’s green new deal could always find employment in the “green economy” as janitors and trucker drivers.
“Innovation in the green economy will require a core workforce with the latest training in emerging technologies or a different mix of skills and knowledge which may cumulate in new green occupations,” said the June 1, 2022 memo. “However not all jobs will require completely new skill sets."
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