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'We are at a crossroads': Alberta premier pens open letter to Trudeau over proposed 'just transition' legislation

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In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith once again expressed concerns over the federal government's proposed legislation to move the country away from high-polluting jobs.

The federal government insists the bill is about creating future jobs in "clean sources of energy" while admitting the legislation would create labour market disruptions.

Smith has previously said that she would fight the 'just transition' bill, and Thursday's letter once again highlighted her disdain for the proposed legislation.

"We are at a crossroads in Alberta's relationship with the federal government," said Smith in her letter. "We can continue with the endless court challenges, legislation to protect jurisdictional rights and inflammatory media coverage over our disagreements, or, as is my strong preference, Alberta and Ottawa can work in partnership on a plan that will signal to all Canadians and investors from around the world that our governments have cooperatively designed a series of incentives and initiatives intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • 1. Substantially decreasing Canada's and Alberta's net emissions;
  • 2. Accelerating private and public investment in projects and infrastructure that utilize and develop Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), Bitumen Beyond Combustion, Geothermal technology, petrochemicals, hydrogen, lithium, helium, zero-emissions vehicles and nuclear technologies;
  • 3. Attracting and growing a larger skilled workforce to fill positions in both the conventional energy sector as well as emerging industries using the technologies cited above; and
  • 4. Significantly, and through the lens of global emissions reduction, increasing the export of LNG and other responsibly developed conventional oil and natural gas resources to Europe, Asia and the United States."

Smith says she hopes to meet with Trudeau in February to work on the legislation collaboratively.

Alberta's premier including the following requests in the letter:

  • 1. Immediately drop the verbiage of "Just Transition." Accordingly, rename the "Just Transition Act" to the "Sustainable Jobs Act";
  • 2. Vow that all provisions of any forthcoming legislation will be designed to incentivize investment and job growth in both the conventional energy sector as well as in emerging industries utilizing Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), Bitumen Beyond Combustion, petrochemicals, hydrogen, lithium, helium, geothermal, zero-emissions vehicle and nuclear technologies;
  • 3. Demonstrate that no provision of the Act will be designed to phase out or reduce Alberta's conventional oil and natural gas sector and workforce (as we are already experiencing a workforce shortage in this sector);
  • 4. Commit your Government to actively partnering with Alberta to expand LNG exports to Asia and Europe as part of our nation's overall emissions reduction strategy; and
  • 5. Promise that you and your Government will work with Alberta in partnership to set reasonable and meaningful emissions reductions targets and will not unilaterally impose such targets on Alberta's energy, agriculture and other industrial sectors on a go forward basis. 

Trudeau has yet to respond to the letter. However, several cabinet ministers, including Minister of Natural ResourcesJonathan Wilkinson, later responded to Smith with their own open letter on Twitter.

Earlier this month, both the UCP and the Alberta NDP agreed that the federal government should scrap the bill altogether.

In response to Smith's most recent open letter, opposition leader Rachel Notley accused the UCP of being "missing in action."

"This late-breaking pivot won't do anything to restore Albertans' trust in Smith's ability to engage productively at the discussion table on the future of our economy," said Notley.

"Many of the objectives in today's letter are laudable, but Danielle Smith lacks credibility among working people and investors as a result of her combative and inflammatory positioning to date."

Notely has also said that the federal government's emissions targets for 2030 are unrealistic.

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