From her website in 2012:
“My objective is to hand over a healthy Alberta to future generations. This ideal guides my thinking on energy issues.”
Global energy markets are increasingly volatile, leaving it to Alberta to lead a Canadian energy strategy to ensure our country remains strong and stable in a world defined by energy insecurity. Together with the other provinces and the federal government, we must make certain that our resources reach every corner of Canada at competitive rates. Our natural gas can help other provinces meet their environmental objectives and our oil can eliminate the risk of supply disruption or shortages to eastern and Atlantic refineries.
I will champion Alberta in the Canadian federation and create a positive image to define our relationship with our international partners. While we value our close relationship with the US, we need to expand markets beyond our southern border. There has been a lot of discussion on the need to build infrastructure to connect Alberta to Asian markets via Canada’s Pacific coast and I fully support these efforts.
The most essential task for a Premier, however, is to go beyond economic interests and provide leadership for the strategic directions our province must take. The Premier of Alberta must have a vision for the future and an actual game plan to deliver it. The vision must be rooted in Alberta’s strengths, our strong work ethic and our know-how, while the game plan must be built collaboratively and driven by our can-do attitude. I’m offering a vision for the future and our place in Canada, with a practical strategy to get us there.
My Canadian energy strategy focuses on three main themes: making Alberta (i) the global leader in sustainable hydrocarbon production and (ii) a leader in partnerships for renewable energy technologies and achieving this by (iii) investing in our most precious resource of all: people.
Global Leader in Sustainable Hydrocarbon Production
Objective: To develop state-of-the-art but practical solutions for sustainable hydrocarbon production in all relevant areas including technology development, regulation, data collection, monitoring, enforcement systems, education, research, policy, community engagement and communications.
The main issue confronting us is the environmental and social sustainability of hydrocarbon resources. The challenges include reclamation of abandoned conventional wells, concerns – from water to air, from housing to health – surrounding both mining and in-situ oilsands development and the pace of expansion of unconventional gas and tight oil. In each case, it is clear that the sector’s growth rate has outpaced the government’s regulatory and enforcement capacities, abilities needed for both sustainability and a balance between commercial and private rights.
Energy efficiency also deserves attention. There is a lot of room to maneuver as Alberta has underperformed in this area. We are the most energy-intensive consumers in the country – even when you don’t include our oil and gas industry – and we spend less than anyone on being more efficient. We can do much better. My government will put energy efficiency at the top of the agenda. It is the fastest and most cost effective measure to improve on sustainability; it is the “low-hanging fruit.”
On other challenging tasks, there are many good ideas at play. Key among them is the need to shore up our bureaucracy. We need to attract the best and brightest to work in government. Excellence will ensure our legislation and regulations actually deliver on our intent. Still, attracting good people is not enough. We need to give them clear direction and the means to monitor and enforce our regulations.
This is the first component of the world-class regulatory and monitoring system I intend to deliver. The second element is to back this system with credible scientific data collected and compiled by independent and internationally recognized researchers and institutes. The data will allow us to develop a wide range of indicators against which we can measure improvements in sustainability. In addition, our regulatory system will lead others by considering the cumulative impact of resource development when approving each single project.
As Premier, I will also demand that consumer-focused, cost-based criteria be included as a fundamental principle guiding analyses and recommendations the government receives from its departments, regulators and advisors in areas like electricity. Looking at the framework of principles in other jurisdictions, it’s clear that cost to consumers is a key factor in determining policy directions and infrastructure decisions elsewhere – which just makes sense. One of my first acts as Premier will be ensuring that this principle is added into Alberta’s regulatory requirements. This will ensure Albertans’ interests are foremost in the review of existing recommendations and all future ones.
Another element of my strategy involves unleashing our researchers and research institutions. We will keep and support elements and programs that work well in Alberta’s research environment while ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objective: to improve the social and environmental sustainability of our hydrocarbon resources as much as possible, as soon as possible.
People can do great things when they’re encouraged to pursue their passions.
The End Goal:
- The exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Alberta will follow sustainable pathways.
- Alberta will be recognized worldwide as the place to come for “all things sustainable” in oil and gas
- Our universities and research institutions will attract the brightest minds and Albertans will be acknowledged as leading thinkers on all aspects of this subject – including science, environment, economics, politics, communications and community engagement.
Leader in Partnerships for Renewable Energy Technologies
Objective: To leverage the revenues from conventional/unconventional energy resources to develop renewable energy technologies.
Although the world will be primarily fueled by hydrocarbons for a long time, eventually alternative sources will become economical and widespread. Alberta must be a player in this future.
We know we cannot be a leader in everything; picking winners and losers among emerging technologies is a real challenge. But we know for sure that successful technology development requires:
- Long-term funding,
- A research/decision process insulated from political interference,
- A structure that provides incentives for public-private partnerships and makes successful discoveries/developments/technologies readily available for adoption by others in a fair manner.
I will establish an authority to direct government’s efforts in the renewable energy sector, based on the success of the Alberta Oil Sands Development Authority (AOSTRA). Our initiative will be unique among global competitors in having a mandate and financial structure that allows – and even encourages – transnational and international partnerships.
In addition to our efforts at home, we will lead collaborative efforts in the global energy research field. We will seize opportunities like those presented by the recently established Energy Innovation Centre at the Inter-American Development Bank, leading their research and development efforts in the hemisphere. This initiative will give Albertans a chance to work alongside the world’s leading experts in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuels, energy infrastructure and energy poverty. This is an example where a small investment yields great returns – both for future generations, and Alberta’s economy. There will be other opportunities if we search and remain ready to act. This is the kind of smart investment we are determined to make and capitalize on during my tenure as Premier.
The End Goal: Alberta becomes a leading global partner in the development of renewable energy technologies. Its institutions are world-class and its researchers and research are welcomed as valuable contributors and leaders in a range of institutions and multilateral organizations critical to our economy and industries.
Our Most Precious Resource: People
Objective: To enable Albertans, to take the reins of the economy, research, and future of our province by encouraging excellence. Geekiness, public engagement and a passion for learning are all elements of the new cool.
Decades of significant pay differentials between industry and government/academic circles have created a workforce and leadership with a narrow focus on engineering and the sciences. When other fields such as law, accounting and business administration are involved, the focus is often concentrated in the energy sector. This state of affairs translates into an aggregate of excellence in industry, rather than a more equal distribution in society and different fields of study. This puts Alberta’s potential at risk and restricts our ability to construct a truly diversified economy. Our future should not be boxed-in.
We are an enormously wealthy society, especially if we define ‘wealth’ as more than finances. We have the privilege of living in a healthy and developed country with security of place and person, world-class education, strong democratic traditions, constitutionally enshrined freedoms, human rights, the rule of law and longstanding peace – domestically and with our neighbours. All this is added to the ‘traditional’ aspects of prosperity inherited from our hard-working forbearers. And we also know that societies that excel do so in all aspects of life: the arts, economics, public service and the sciences. It is time to use the responsibility that comes with our fortune and make the most of the opportunity we have before us – both for our children and grandchildren and for the unique contributions we can make to the world.
It is time to create a legacy of excellence.
To deliver on both sustainability of hydrocarbons and renewable energy technologies, we need to: empower our people, fund long-term research, revive a culture of learning and help our graduates start their professional lives.
Our youth are our future. We will work with governments, the private sector and multilateral institutions to secure positions that will give them a head start. A rounded view of the world creates the lifelong networks that we need to succeed in this changing world. To ensure that we go beyond wishful thinking, we will establish a fund for “externships.” Recent graduates from history, language, business, anthropology and many other fields will compete for positions established and negotiated by the government of Alberta with a variety of institutions across Canada and around the world. This program will open doors, giving young people the opportunity to build up their resumes along with their global networks. We will also direct our own network of government representatives abroad to broaden their efforts to include support for individuals, in addition to their work with the private sector.
The End Goal: Alberta becomes synonymous with excellence in many fields. Albertans themselves will define the fields by following their passions; the government will create the opportunity for them to flourish.
These directions, which I propose to set in motion and accomplish as Premier, are perhaps more important today than they have ever been. The world is on the cusp of great change and energy is front and centre. My vision is for a legacy of excellence – an Alberta that is a global leader in the sustainable production of hydrocarbon resources, an Alberta that is the partner of choice for renewable energy research and an Alberta that offers the best life for its people – you, our most p