Ceci calls lack of ac­tion on ca­pac­ity woes ‘dis­ap­point­ing’

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Al­berta Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Ceci said af­ter­ward: “It’s clear the fed­eral gov­ern­ment isn’t speak­ing the same eco­nomic lan­guage as Al­ber­tans. Ot­tawa is liv­ing on a dif­fer­ent eco­nomic planet.”

Through the an­noy­ance, Ceci was quite fair: “I’m pleased to see the fed­eral gov­ern­ment move to 100 per cent write­offs for man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries and the oil and gas sec­tor.

“This im­proves our com­pet­i­tive­ness and is a win for Al­berta work­ers and com­pa­nies. I am pleased the fed­eral gov­ern­ment lis­tened to our ad­vice.”

He’d sent fed­eral Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau a let­ter, along with just about ev­ery other prov­ince spooked by busi­ness tax cuts in the U.S.

Ceci’s gripe is that there was no spe­cific mea­sure aimed at the most dan­ger­ous eco­nomic prob­lem in the coun­try. (On Nov. 20, Hardisty Light oil was priced at a mis­er­able $7.40 per bar­rel.)

“We have asked for in­creased rail ca­pac­ity,” Ceci said. “And while ca­pac­ity is­sues are men­tioned in the re­port, no ac­tion was taken.

“This is dis­ap­point­ing to Al­ber­tans. As own­ers of the oil and gas, we will con­tinue to be ship­ping this prod­uct out of our prov­ince at a deep dis­count.

“The fis­cal up­date doesn’t take into ac­count what’s go­ing on in our en­ergy in­dus­try. I think they need to re-eval­u­ate.”

Ceci ex­pects Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to get an ear­ful Thurs­day when he speaks to the Cal­gary Cham­ber of Com­merce, and key CEOs af­ter­ward.

“I think he’ll hear this in a vo­cal way,” Ceci said. “We need to get the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to fo­cus at­ten­tion on get­ting real things done for the en­ergy sec­tor.”

In a CBC in­ter­view with Vassy Kape­los, Morneau claimed the cap­i­tal cost write­off will help the dif­fer­en­tial right away.

“By def­i­ni­tion it will have an im­me­di­ate im­pact,” he said.

“But I don’t want to sug­gest that we’ve found a so­lu­tion for that prob­lem.

“That is a re­ally dif­fi­cult longterm prob­lem and I think it’s some­thing that clearly the sec­tor is work­ing to­gether with the Al­berta gov­ern­ment on.

“We’re go­ing to con­tinue to be res­o­lute in our goal of as­sur­ing that we can get the clean­est re­sources in the world to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. We think that’s im­por­tant. So we’re on it.

“It’s the rea­son we stepped for­ward with the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line pur­chase. It’s one we’re com­mit­ted to work­ing through in the right way.”

That way is “to en­sure that we ac­tu­ally con­sider the is­sues around the West Coast that the court asked us to do, and that we ac­tu­ally have mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tions with In­dige­nous peo­ple.”

He’s al­lud­ing to the big fail­ure after the pur­chase; the Fed­eral Court re­jec­tion based largely on the las­si­tude of fed­eral of­fi­cials who didn’t re­ally talk to First Na­tions, just sort of lis­tened and took notes.

Morneau seems to be say­ing that an even­tual pipe­line ap­proval is all the prov­ince is go­ing to get.

Al­berta needs im­me­di­ate eco­nomic EMS. The feds prom­ise to build a hos­pi­tal, some­day.

The ex­pan­sion wouldn’t be op­er­at­ing for years. The price dif­fer­en­tial will per­sist un­til then, un­less the prov­ince comes up with mag­i­cal so­lu­tions.

There’s no doubt that Morneau’s cap­i­tal cost break will help busi­nesses hop­ing to ex­pand. Morneau con­stantly stressed that this pol­icy is for the whole coun­try, not just Al­berta.

Why this re­luc­tance to of­fer spe­cific help? The Lib­er­als may cal­cu­late that after spend­ing $4.5 bil­lion to buy the pipe­line, there’s lit­tle na­tional tol­er­ance for more Al­berta aid.

But Al­berta didn’t screw up that ap­proval. Ot­tawa did. This prov­ince needs the kind of emer­gency help the fed­eral gov­ern­ment rou­tinely spouts for au­tos or Bom­bardier air­planes.

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