Pre­miers fo­cus on energy

No agree­ment on na­tional strat­egy yet

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

The premier of New­found­land and Labrador says progress has been made on a na­tional energy strat­egy, but talks among Canada’s pre­miers will con­tinue for at least another day.

Paul Davis spoke to­day af­ter the first full day of the Coun­cil of Fed­er­a­tion meet­ing in St. John’s, N.L., and said no deal has been reached yet.

Agree­ment on an energy strat­egy was top of mind go­ing into the meet­ing for many of Canada’s na­tional lead­ers, who are now work­ing through re­gional dif­fer­ences.

Davis said ear­lier in the day that it’s more im­por­tant to get a na­tional energy strat­egy right than to get it done quickly.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall of­fered a vo­cal de­fence of the oil and gas sec­tors as he ar­rived for the meet­ing of pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial lead­ers.

He says he’s con­cerned that energy re­sources are in­creas­ingly viewed as a li­a­bil­ity in some parts of the coun­try.

“This energy strat­egy men­tions oil, but it’s al­most in pass­ing,” he said of an early draft of a doc­u­ment pre­miers had said they would ham­mer out be­fore this sum­mer’s meet­ing.

“It’s al­most like we’ve be­come em­bar­rassed that we have this energy as­set and we ought not to be be­cause on the strength of de­vel­op­ing that as­set, we have funded in­nu­mer­able so­cial pro­grams. We have cre­ated strong economies.”

Wall said there’s grow­ing frus­tra­tion in the West, where the energy in­dus­try cre­ates jobs and helps fund equal­iza­tion trans­fers from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to less-wealthy prov­inces.

Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley, whose NDP gov­ern­ment has said it will strike a new course on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, stressed the need for bal­ance.

“We are an energy province and my job is to make sure that we can grow pros­per­ity in Al­berta as well as across the coun­try, and so we’re go­ing to con­tinue to do that,” she told re- porters Wed­nes­day. “But there’s no ques­tion that our new gov­ern­ment does see that there’s a close tie be­tween en­vi­ron­men­tal record, a good strong in­tegrity there, in or­der to es­tab­lish more ac­cess to mar­kets.”

All pre­miers are free to ex­press their opin­ions, Davis said when asked if Wall’s out­spo­ken­ness was stalling progress.

Nova Sco­tia Premier Stephen McNeil called Wall a “great part­ner” and said it’s im­por­tant for all prov­inces to take a na­tional view on how to best move re­sources across Canada and to in- ter­na­tional buy­ers.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said he’s op­ti­mistic the pre­miers can agree on a na­tional plan that will set guide­lines for new projects, such as the pro­posed Energy East pipeline while also pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Energy’s an im­por­tant part of our Cana­dian econ­omy,” he said. “It’s an im­por­tant part of the New Brunswick econ­omy and we need it to be help­ing us, we need it to be grow­ing if we’re go­ing to cre­ate jobs and grow the econ­omy from coast to coast to coast.”

CP PHOTO

New­found­land and Labrador Premier Paul Davis (left) walks with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall at the sum­mer meet­ing of Canada’s pre­miers in St. John’s Thurs­day.

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