'Fantasy plan for a mythical country': Premier Kenney slams federal throne speech
CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had harsh words Thursday morning for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling Wednesday's speech from the throne a "fantasy plan for a mythical country."
"A strong Canada needs a strong Alberta and Alberta was not recognized in yesterday's throne speech with (only) one passing reference about effectively phasing out the energy sector," he said.
"Yesterday's throne speech outlined future tax incentives for companies that invest in net-zero carbon technology, but zero reference to the companies that are actually doing the major heavy lifting and investing in green technology, with the support of Alberta's government. That is our cutting edge, oil and gas companies that are doing remarkable things to reduce carbon intensity and to show real, practical environmental progress as opposed to costly pie-in-the-sky schemes."
Kenney began the news conference by reading an email he said he received from a constituent named Michael, who wrote that he has not had full-time work in more than two years.
"I have a wife and kids, no health or dental coverage, no cash left and zero RRSP or pension funds, as I've had to drain this out just to survive," said Kenney. "I can't compete for roles in my professional field of project controls and there is no capital investment at all, and zero opporunity to change career paths when hundreds of people with experience apply to every position.
"Over half of our people are broke and looking at poverty and economic ruin is the new normal."
That reality, said Kenney, is being experienced by "tens and tens of thousands of Albertans and other Canadians across the country."
"That is a reality that (Wednedsay's) throne speech and address from the prime minister completely failed to recognize, to acknowledge or to act on," he said.
"Yesterday's throne speech included 6,783 words, not one of them was about the largest industry sector in the Canadian economy, not one of them mentioned our oil and gas sector, which helped to pull Canada through the last global recession."
But as much as Kenney says the throne speech and the Prime Minister are hanging the oil and gas industry out to dry, not everyone working in the sector agreed.
"I think it was a balanced document," said Mark Scholz, with the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. "It did use some key terms we were happy to see included including a balanced approach to natural resources."
Scholz added that many people in the energy industry have relied upon the federal wage subsidy to stay afloat during the pandemic; a subsidy the government announced would be extended in the throne speech.
"We thought this was very critical," he said. "Many...have used that to hold off further wage reductions as well as overall employment cuts, so the fact tht it's extended to the summer of 2021 was encouraging. Now...we will see how that plays out in reality."
Meanwhile, Alberta's opposition leader said now isn't the time for Jason Kenney to be picking a fight with Ottawa.
"What we need is a premier who is going to work at this time collaboratively with the federal government and not simply find ways to criticize," said Rachel Notley, "While failing to do anything in the area where he has responsibility to create jobs and grow the economy and support Albertans."
The throne speech, which kicked off a new session of Parliament in the nation's capital, laid out the plan Trudeau's government has for the next four years in office.
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette presented the minority government’s speech from the throne in the Senate Chamber, which detailed a four-pronged approach to pandemic survival and recovery, emphasizing that Canada has to both address today’s challenges and think of the future by tackling climate change, systemic racism, and gender inequity.