New Alberta Premier Jason Kenney seeks cooperation with PM Trudeau and Quebec on pipelines

Alberta’s Premier-elect Jason Kenney, who is expected to be sworn in with his new United Conservative government on April 30, spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a “cordial” phone call on Wednesday and said the plan is to soon meet one-on-one. From outside Alberta’s legislature building, Premier Kenney said, “He called to offer his congratulations. We spoke for about 15 minutes. We had a respectful conversation about a number of issues, including the need to get Canadian energy to foreign markets.

On Tuesday, Premier Kenney’s United Conservatives won a strong majority government over Rachel Notley’s NDP. Central to his campaign success was leveraging voter dissatisfaction with PM Trudeau and then-Premier Notley as supporting federal energy policies that undermine Canada’s oil and gas sector. The dynamic between Premier Kenney and PM Trudeau will be pivotal as the UCP work to implement its core campaign promise to create more jobs and grow the oil and gas sector.

Premier Kenney has criticized the federal Liberals on proposed legislation, including a tanker ban on the northern B.C. coast and Bill C-69. Bill C-69, which is now before the Senate, creates new approval rules for energy projects. Premier Kenney calls it an unconstitutional power grab on areas of provincial authority and promised to fight it in court. He will also go to court to try to stop the federal government from imposing a carbon tax on Alberta once his UCP follows through next month on its promise to repeal the Alberta carbon tax introduced by Notley’s government.

Prospective relations between Alberta and Quebec may be off to a more flexible start. In his victory speech, Premier Kenney spoke in French, which Quebec’s Premier Francois Legault called an elegant gesture, to say we need pipelines for the prosperity of all Canadians. He also praised the Premier Legault government’s commitment to reducing Quebec’s dependence on equalization transfers.

Premier Legault congratulated Kenney on his electoral victory Wednesday, however, he said all parties in Quebec’s legislature still oppose any new oil pipelines. Premier Kenney said he wants to start on a positive note with Premier Legault, adding, “We don’t think it’s reasonable for other provinces, like Quebec, to take our equalization money while opposing pipeline projects that can help us pay the bills.” Despite the fact that a recent poll showed there is 60 percent support for new pipelines by Quebec’s residents, Premier Legault said, “What I am saying is there is no social acceptability for a new oil pipeline in Quebec.” He said the province already receives more than half its oil from Western Canada and is open to a proposed natural gas pipeline coming from Alberta.

Ontario’s Conservative Premier Doug Ford welcomed Premier Kenney’s opposition to the federal carbon tax when stood in the legislature Wednesday to congratulate the new Premier along with the rest of his caucus, who rose for a standing ovation. “We see just a blue wave going across this country from west to east. We’re building an anti-carbon tax alliance like this country has never seen.” Premier Ford said.

Premier Kenney plans to recall the legislature in the third week of May. He has said that the first day of his government will see him proclaim into law a bill passed by Notley’s legislature allowing Alberta to reduce oil flows to British Columbia if B.C. continues to thwart the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to take more Alberta oil to the West Coast.