Ken­ney is fill­ing the void left by Trudeau

Premier man­ages for­eign pol­icy, econ­omy

Calgary Herald - - CANADA - DIANE FRAN­CIS Com­ment

It took a cri­sis — COVID-19 — to re­veal that many Cana­dian pre­miers and Amer­i­can gov­er­nors are dra­mat­i­cally bet­ter lead­ers than ei­ther coun­try’s cur­rent fed­eral in­cum­bents.

In Canada, Al­berta Premier Ja­son Ken­ney stands out not only for manag­ing the pan­demic well, but also for fill­ing the for­eign pol­icy and eco­nomic vac­uum left by Canada’s hap­less prime min­is­ter, who has spent far too much time and en­ergy pur­su­ing a use­less United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat, at the ex­pense of our na­tional in­ter­ests. By con­trast, Premier Ken­ney has been proac­tively do­ing what good for­eign pol­icy dic­tates: un­equiv­o­cally con­demn­ing China for its mis­deeds and propos­ing that Canada dis­tance it­self from Bei­jing, while pur­su­ing deeper in­te­gra­tion with the United States in man­u­fac­tur­ing, med­i­cal equip­ment and en­ergy. He has also been mak­ing the rounds in Washington to pro­tect our eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

“The ir­re­spon­si­ble ac­tions of Rus­sia and Saudi (Ara­bia) clearly have been try­ing to per­ma­nently im­pair the North Amer­i­can en­ergy in­dus­try and one of my goals has been to re­mind folks in Washington that Canada is part of the so­lu­tion and not the prob­lem,” he said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Na­tional Post. “I spoke with the U.S. en­ergy sec­re­tary, Congress, Se­nate and House en­ergy com­mit­tees, and lead­ing en­ergy busi­ness lead­ers to ad­vo­cate for a co-or­di­nated ap­proach away from al­low­ing OPEC to dump its dic­ta­tor oil here.”

Dis­cus­sions there ranged from a “co-or­di­nated Canada-u.s. tar­iff on for­eign im­ports, that might ex­clude Mex­ico,” to “some kind of a co-or­di­nated (bi­lat­eral) price un­til OPEC+ agreed to re­duce pro­duc­tion,” said Ken­ney. He said that there was sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in these ideas, and con­gres­sional sources have told me that the idea of im­pos­ing com­mon tar­iffs on for­eign oil is gain­ing trac­tion.

(In 2019, Canada ex­ported four mil­lion bar­rels a day to the U.S. and was more than ca­pa­ble of help­ing re­place the two mil­lion bar­rels that Amer­ica im­ported from OPEC coun­tries that year.)

“En­ergy in­de­pen­dence would be a huge achieve­ment and the U.S. has spent tril­lions of dol­lars de­fend­ing Per­sian Gulf coun­tries to pro­tect their en­ergy sup­plies, and in­de­pen­dence would mean that was no longer nec­es­sary,” Ken­ney added.

Ken­ney is work­ing with some of his Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts to im­pede “col­lat­eral threats from U.S. pol­i­tics,” such as ef­forts to kill the Key­stone XL pipeline (which Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den has en­dorsed), as well as NGOS on both sides of the bor­der that are devoted to clos­ing pipe­lines.

“Ev­ery­where we turn, there are U.S. ef­forts to block Cana­dian en­ergy,” he said. “We hope to work with his (Bi­den’s) transition team to en­sure he’s aware of all of the facts.”

The facts re­gard­ing Key­stone are that the State Depart­ment con­cluded twice dur­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ten­ure that

Key­stone would re­duce over­all emis­sions by elim­i­nat­ing con­tam­i­nated crude from else­where, that Gulf Coast re­finer­ies need Canada’s heavy crude to op­er­ate and that all gov­er­nors along the route sup­port it, Ken­ney added.

“We want to reach out to al­lies such as key Demo­cratic stake­hold­ers, team­sters, con­struc­tion work­ers, in­dus­try lead­ers,” he said. “The Cana­dian fed­eral govern­ment needs to play a role to make it clear that any U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion retroac­tively can­celling this pipeline would dam­age us.”

“The fed­eral govern­ment un­der­stands the im­por­tance of trade with the U.S., but, ob­vi­ously, we’re con­cerned that there are peo­ple in the fed­eral govern­ment who see this huge ex­port in­dus­try as be­ing a prob­lem rather than great ben­e­fit,” he said. “We are in­creas­ing our own pres­ence, open­ing a trade of­fice in Hous­ton, and po­ten­tially hav­ing a pres­ence in New York and the Bay area.”

He also crit­i­cized the “hypocrisy” of oil-soaked Nor­way, whose gi­gan­tic her­itage fund dumped its oil­sands stocks re­cently: “Its boy­cott of Cana­dian oil is based on out­dated and in­ac­cu­rate emis­sions fig­ures, and it con­tin­ues to in­vest in some of the worst regimes on earth in re­spect to hu­man, labour and women’s rights.”

Back home, Ken­ney is work­ing on get­ting a “fair deal” from Ottawa, hop­ing to put an end to en­ergy pol­icy sab­o­tage, med­dling and un­just equal­iza­tion pay­ments. The Fair Deal Panel’s public con­sul­ta­tions have been com­pleted and will soon be turned into a list of de­mands.

For­tu­nately, Al­berta’s premier is also ful­fill­ing the role of a prime min­is­ter by strength­en­ing al­liances and pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion and its econ­omy from our ri­vals.

CHRIS SCH­WARZ/GOVERN­MENT OF AL­BERTA

Al­berta Premier Ja­son Ken­ney has con­demned China and pur­sued deeper in­te­gra­tion with the U.S. in man­u­fac­tur­ing while aim­ing to pro­tect our eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

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