Redford’s energy vision clashes with McGuinty’s view of oil-sands benefits – Karen Howlett and Dawn Walton (Globe and Mail – February 28, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

TORONTO AND CALGARY— Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s vision of a national Canadian energy strategy has bogged down in an increasingly bitter dispute with Ontario over the economic benefits of the oil sands.

Ms. Redford had suggested Ontario should be a more vocal advocate for oil-sands development, on the grounds that related businesses benefit Ontario’s economy. That met with a rebuff on Monday from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who said Canada’s high “petro dollar” has hobbled exporters in his province.

That prompted a sharp rebuke from Ms. Redford. She said Mr. McGuinty’s “simplistic” approach to the oil sands and the Canadian dollar is based on a “false paradigm” and suggested that the leader of the country’s one-time economic powerhouse needs to broaden his outlook.

“When we talk about oil sands, it’s not about what’s in Alberta’s best interests,” Ms. Redford told reporters Monday. “It is about what’s in Canada’s best interests.”

Ms. Redford struck a decidedly different tone from her first visit to Toronto last November as Alberta’s newly minted premier. During a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, she pushed for an energy strategy that pulls together Alberta’s oil sands, the hydro power of British Columbia, and Ontario’s green energy agenda. Her speech signalled a warming of ties between Alberta and Ontario, long at odds with each other.

The latest tensions threaten to pit Mr. McGuinty not only against other leaders in Western Canada but also the federal government, to which he made a pointed reference on Monday when mentioning Ottawa’s support of Alberta’s oil-sands sector and comparative neglect of his province’s ambitious green-energy plans.

Responding to Mr. McGuinty’s remarks, federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told reporters, “The oil sands are a valuable asset for the entire country, from coast to coast to coast, including Ontario.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has endorsed Ms. Redford’s Canadian Energy Strategy to position Canada as an energy superpower, said he was stymied by the anti-oil-sands “rhetoric” coming from Mr. McGuinty.

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