EDMONTON – Premier Rachel Notley says Alberta’s oilsands aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Notley posted a video message Friday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was taken to task for talking about eventually phasing out the oilsands.
“You can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy,” Trudeau told a town-hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont.
“We can’t shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels. That is going to take time. And, in the meantime, we have to manage that transition.”
His words set off anger in Alberta, where the low price of oil has thrown many out of work.
Notley didn’t mention Trudeau by name, but touted the recent approval of pipelines and said the oilsands will power the global economy for generations to come.
“Our job is to make sure Alberta’s product is the first in line,” she said.
“The bottom line: Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the people who work in it are the best in the world. And we’re not going anywhere, any time soon.”
Alberta’s NDP government has brought in legislation capping oilsands industries from collectively emitting more than 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gases a year to reduce the effects of climate change and remake the province’s energy infrastructure into one that relies more on renewables such as wind, solar and hydro power.
Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean – whose Fort McMurray constituency includes the oilsands – says the oil and gas industry provides thousands of good-paying jobs and supports government services across Canada.
“If Mr. Trudeau wants to shut down Alberta’s oilsands, and my hometown, let him be warned: he’ll have to go through me and four million Albertans first,” the Wildrose leader said in a statement.
Ric McIver, interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, said he was disappointed Trudeau was targeting the oilsands which create “thousands of mortgage-paying jobs for Canadians across the country.”
“It’s unfortunate to see him side with Hollywood celebrities by vowing to phase out our oilsands,” he said in a statement, referring to a recent visit by actor Jane Fonda. “Albertans expect better from our prime minister.”
Liberal Leader David Swann was more diplomatic and called on Trudeau to clarify his remarks.
“In the current international economic climate the industry does not need any more uncertainty about its future,” he said in a statement. “We need our prime minister to not only support this industry, the economic engine of the country, but to communicate that clearly.
“Given Justin Trudeau’s recent pipeline approvals, he should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clarify his remarks.”