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Canada’s new natural resources minister to visit Alberta as first order of business
CALGARY – Canada’s newly appointed natural resources minister is expected to make his first official visit to Alberta Thursday.
Seamus O’Regan, an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador, will waste no time in the effort to ramp up support and create more unity in western Canada. He is scheduled to arrive in Calgary Thursday and meet Energy Minister Sonya Savage in the evening.
O’Regan says he spoke with Savage on the phone from Rideau Hall after he was appointed to cabinet Wednesday and expects this trip to Alberta to be the first of many.
"I would say, firstly, Newfoundland and Labrador is the third largest oil and gas supplier in the country," said O'Regan. "Most of my constituents are in some way or another affected by the industry in Alberta."
"I respect Albertans and understand where their head is at right now. My number one priority has been oil and gas in Newfoundland and Labrador and top of that list is providing a stable environment for investment and making sure that investment doesn’t run away from us."
Savage shares similar opinions on the energy industry and took to Twitter to congratulate O’Regan on his appointment. She hopes he will be receptive to discussions on the important issues facing Albertans.
"It’s more important than ever that we work together on market access constraints and ensure pipelines get built," said Savage in a tweeted.
O’Regan, a former television personality from Newfoundland, was first elected in 2015.
He was named Minister of Veterans Affairs in August 2017 — replacing Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr — before he replaced Jane Philpott as Minister of Indigenous Services.
O’Regan say he considers all oil and gas workers as his constituents and looks forward to getting started in his new role.
"We are very proud of the number of Newfoundland and Labradorians that have helped build a great and proud industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan and we have to figure out a time when many Canadians are concerned with climate change, how we can endure their prosperity and their stability while meeting the concerns surrounding this transition."
Transition is likely a difficult task as O’Regan was named to the natural resources portfolio on the same day the United Nations and research groups announced global fossil fuel production will be between 50 to 120 per cent over Paris Agreement targets by 2030.
Unification in the western Canada is also another issue O’Regan will face.
Premier Jason Kenney has urged the new federal cabinet ministers to listen to Alberta’s concerns and take them seriously.
His main concerns remain with federal laws that hurt Alberta’s energy industry and prevent projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from getting built. The province is also continuing to challenge the federal carbon tax in court.
In a tweet, Kenney congratulated the new federal cabinet but made it clear that Alberta’s interests need to be represented federally.
"The Government of Alberta hopes to find common ground with the federal government to create jobs and growth, in part through responsible resource development, and to ensure fairness in the Canadian federation."