Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary on Friday October 25, 2013.
Photograph by: Gavin Young , Calgary Herald
Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne launched a full-scale charm offensive in Calgary Friday as she spoke glowingly of her province’s relationship with Alberta and the importance of the energy industry.
On her first official trip to Alberta as premier, Wynne met with Premier Alison Redford and Mayor Naheed Nenshi and delivered a speech touting the economic connections of the two provinces at a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Wynne told the crowd of about 150 at the Fairmont Palliser that Alberta’s oil and gas industry is good for Ontario and that she recognized the importance of shipping energy cross-country.
The Liberal premier said she was supportive of Redford’s call for a Canadian energy strategy but avoided mention in her speech of two major oil pipeline proposals — TransCanada Corporation’s Energy East and the reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9 — that would ship bitumen across Ontario.
“I think there is a lot of concern about pipelines in general right now in Ontario in some quarters,” Wynne acknowledged to reporters later.
“It’s my responsibility as premier to make sure that people get the information that they need and also that I gather their concerns, that I hear their concerns. But (also) that people understand that it would be hypocritical of us in Ontario not to take part in and not to understand that moving these resources across the country is in our best interest.”
Protecting the environment and engaging First Nations are “non-negotiable” when it comes to energy infrastructure projects, said Wynne. But she said she considered moving crude eastward a “national project.”
Redford — who gave Wynne a pair of mini cowboy boots for her newborn grandson Hugh at their meeting in a trendy inner-city coffee shop — told reporters after their meeting that Wynne’s recognition of the economic spinoff of the energy industry was extremely important.
A Canadian energy strategy — which she has characterized as provinces working together to develop resources and open markets — can serve as a framework for discussions around pipelines, said Redford.
“She also understands that has to be a place where the rubber hits the road, that we have to build infrastructure to ensure that we’re accessing these resources and getting them to market,” Redford said of Wynne.
“She’s been very supportive of doing that work and ensuring that we can have the technical partnerships we need to see those pipelines moving ahead.”
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said Wynne’s support for moving resources to Eastern Canada is “critically important” and her message of working collaboratively was “inspiring.”
“I wouldn’t say we have unanimous political consensus (on pipelines),” he said.
“What we have consensus on is the need to work together and infrastructure is part of that, cross border trade and market access those things are critical … I think that is what we are seeing endorsement of, is the concept and not any individual project at this time.”
Wynne did raise in her speech two issues where the Ontario is offside with Alberta — her government’s call for a national securities regulator and enhancement of the Canada Pension Plan.
With files from Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald