New Year's Message 2022

Happy New Year!

I hope you were able to spend some time with family over the Christmas break.  I was certainly grateful to have a bit of time at home, though I’m excited to get back to work in the constituency before we head back to Edmonton in February.

New Year's Message 2021

Never have I been more excited to ring in a New Year.  As thousands of front-line respiratory technicians, nurses, and physicians receive their first doses of the Coronavirus vaccine, I am filled with hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel. 

I know that thousands of Albertans have lost friends or family members to the Coronavirus, while others have felt the awful impacts of higher rates of addiction and depression.  Balancing these health concerns with the devastating economic impacts of shutting down businesses, has been a great challenge.  Every member of our cabinet and caucus have struggled with these decisions, and the impacts each of these policies has on families.

Article - Fighting for a better future for all Albertans

On May 30 of 2017, I invited out-of-work energy workers to Alberta’s Legislature, many of them my former colleagues. They were protesting government policies - including higher corporate taxes and the carbon tax. They were protesting jobs and investment leaving Alberta and going to South Dakota, Texas, and even Middle Eastern dictatorships in search of more stable business climates.

Alberta Infrastructure's 2020

2020 has been a year like no other in recent memory. This year Albertans have faced a collapse in global oil prices and a worldwide pandemic, both of which continue to effect the way we work, learn, socialize, and live our daily lives.

The Government of Alberta has faced these challenges head-on with measures to keep Albertans working while taking necessary steps to keep everyone at our worksites and in our buildings safe. The investments Alberta is making in Infrastructure will result in better programs and services for people across our province.

Sun Column: NDP shows true colours on energy

The last few years have not been kind to Alberta’s oil and gas sector and the families that depend on these jobs.

A deliberate effort to block and obstruct needed pipelines has left our resource landlocked, hurting jobs and our economy, and forcing our oil to be sold at a discount.

That’s why it was so disturbing to learn that last month the NDP government appointed Ed Whittingham to serve as a director of the Alberta Energy Regulator, the provincial regulatory agency for the energy industry.

It’s a problem unto itself that the NDP is appointing its friends to prominent positions at the last minute before the election — Mr. Whittingham was a key speaker at the NDP’s 2016 convention, praising their carbon tax, and now finds himself appointed to the AER on Feb. 12, almost two weeks into the legal campaign period before the election.

But what’s really disturbing is Mr. Whittingham’s history of anti-resource activism.

Mr. Whittingham presided over the Pembina Institute as its executive director. As independent researcher Vivian Krause uncovered, under Mr. Whittingham’s leadership Pembina and its sister organizations pocketed over $8 million in foreign funding specifically to oppose pipelines (specifically “research, education and organizing on dirty fuels and pipelines” and “targeting Tar Sands policy.”)

Mr. Whittingham’s organization pocketed foreign money from the Tar Sands campaign, and he put it to use:

He specifically lobbied for the very change that led to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline getting scrapped, a 1.1 million barrel per day project to the east coast.

He travelled to Washington, D.C., to lobby the Obama administration against the needed KeystoneXL pipeline. It worked — the Obama administration vetoed the project.

He opposed the Northern Gateway pipeline, a much-needed 525,000-barrel-per-day project. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers recently said that “If Northern Gateway had come on as planned, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” referring to the devastating oil differential in late 2018.

Of course, NDP Premier Rachel Notley also opposed the Northern Gateway project and stayed silent when the Trudeau Liberal government scrapped it. Back in 2013, NDP Environment Minister Shannon Phillips travelled to NEB hearings to oppose the project and even took part in a protest against it in B.C.

We can only imagine how much different today’s situation would be if Mr. Whittingham’s efforts hadn’t been successful.

I was disappointed to see the NDP government double-down and defend their appointment of Mr. Whittingham when it was revealed earlier this week.

It is, however, consistent with the NDP pattern: after years of attacking energy jobs, they’re now talking up the energy industry in the lead-up to the election, but their actions demonstrate that they’re the same-old anti-energy NDP at heart.

It is only the latest in a string of problematic appointments.

As is now well-known, in 2016, Alberta’s NDP government appointed Tzeporah Berman, a well-known anti-resource activist from British Columbia to chair the Government of Alberta’s Oil Sands Advisory Group. Her views were well-known: as she said prior to her appointment, “We need to shut down the tar sands. We need to move away from the development of oil.”

Today, she continues to lead efforts to block needed pipelines to the coast.

Another NDP appointee to their Oil Sands Advisory Group, Karen Mahon, pledged to do “whatever it takes to stop Kinder Morgan’s risky pipeline” and, as part of her campaign, roped herself to a barge in an effort to stop the pipeline.

To date, the NDP have never apologized for any of these appointments.

Only a few short years ago, David Eggen, now one of Rachel Notley’s most senior ministers, stood on the steps of the Alberta Legislature, facing an anti-pipeline rally, leading them in a chant of “No new approvals!”

I’m afraid that the appointment of Ed Whittingham to the AER is only the latest act making that wish come true.


Fact checking Minister Sohi: Zero facts found

As our Official Opposition’s Energy Critic, I am proud to stand up for our province and against the federal government’s recent efforts to stack the deck against Alberta.

In a recent column, the federal Liberal government’s Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi took some significant liberties with truth regarding the state of the energy industry here in Alberta.

First, the Minister states that his government has been successful in ensuring economic growth and “creating middle class jobs.” The numbers tell another story. Since 2014, the year before the Trudeau government came to power, Alberta has lost 40,000 private sector jobs. Today there are more than 100,000 Albertans who are out of work and not receiving help from employment insurance (EI).

The Minister also stated that Alberta’s oil industry has seen “continued growth.” Yet, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), at a time when energy demand and capital spending are increasing globally, total investment in Canada's oil and natural gas sector is expected to fall to $42 billion in 2018. That’s down from $81 billion four years ago.

Mr. Sohi goes on to challenge the former Conservative government’s record on pipelines, while ignoring his own administration’s failures. During Jason Kenney’s time as a Cabinet member, four major pipeline projects were completed adding capacity to move 1.74 million barrels per day. During Mr. Sohi’s time in Cabinet, the Trudeau government halted the Northern Gateway project, announced a tanker ban, and regulated the Energy East project out of existence.

The Minister claims that Justin Trudeau’s No More Pipelines Law, Bill C-69, “actually provides greater certainty” for industry. Industry leaders from Canada’s Pipeline Association, Explorers and Producers Association, Chemistry Industry Association, Petroleum Services Association have a much different take. Penning a joint column, recently published in the National Post, they pointed out that Bill C-69 replaces both the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, effectively erasing every relevant precedent currently in place.

Finally, the Minister accused conservatives of “talking down our energy sector.” I take issue with this empty rhetoric. Standing up for the people of Alberta is my job. It’s one reason why, on the day he became Natural Resources Minister, I personally wrote to Sohi to request a meeting to discuss Alberta’s energy sector. I received no response.

The federal Liberal government is clearly intent on stacking the deck against Alberta. And the people of our province deserve better. They deserve facts. They deserve the truth. And, perhaps most importantly, they deserve leadership that will stand up for our province.

Sun Column: Stacking the deck against Alberta

The numbers are staggering.

Over the past several years, more than $40 billion in investment has fled Alberta’s oilsands, and our province stands to lose much more in the years to come.

The major players fleeing Alberta are hardly fly-by-night operators: we’re talking about some of the world’s leading companies, employing tens of thousands of workers with the knowledge and expertise to implement cutting edge technology.

These folks don’t cut and run on multi-billion dollar programs without just cause. So what has them so worried? It is the recognition that governments are stacking the deck against Alberta.

Take Justin Trudeau’s No More Pipelines Law, Bill C-69, the most damaging legislation to Alberta’s oil and gas industry since the National Energy Program. This bill completely overhauls the federal approval process for major projects like pipelines. These changes virtually guarantee that even if pipeline projects are approved, they will be tied up in the courts indefinitely.

According to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, this legislation makes it “difficult to imagine that a new major pipeline could be built in Canada.”

The red tape gets thicker. As the overland mining leases in the oilsands have already been awarded, the remaining oil must be collected using SAG-D (steam-assisted gravity drainage) technology. Under Bill C-69, all future SAG-D projects could require federal approval.

Even worse, as C-69 legislates a double standard against Alberta oil, measuring upstream carbon emissions for Canadian pipelines, but imposing no such hurdle on foreign-tanker oil. This is an amazingly good deal for our global competitors, who don’t pay a carbon tax.

Prime Minister Trudeau also stacked the deck against Alberta with his tanker ban, Bill C-48. This legislation only bans tankers that export Alberta oil for the northwest coast of BC, not those that import oil from foreign jurisdictions.

Because of decisions like these, today much of Alberta’s oil cannot reach world markets and now sells at a nearly 60% discount to our American competitors. That’s great news for President Donald Trump, not to mention the foreign CEOs cashing in our mistakes.

It is worth noting that if any other Canadian industry faced such a massive trade inequity, be it supply managed dairy, aerospace, or auto manufacturing, the federal government would be scrambling to offer compensation. However, the owners of Alberta’s oil are unlikely to ever see a dime.

You see, the abundant natural resources in Alberta’s oilsands don’t belong to the oil companies. It’s not the environmental activists’ oil. It’s not our foreign competitor’s oil. It’s not Premier Notley’s oil, and it certainly is not Prime Minister Trudeau’s oil. The deck is not being stacked against any of them.

Thousands of Alberta jobs and families depend on our oil and gas industry.

A strong oil and gas sector benefits all Albertans — and that’s who the deck is being stacked against.

You deserve better.

— Calgary-Foothills MLA Prasad Panda is UCP Energy Critic.

Tone deaf carbon tax defence out of touch with everyday Albertans

It was disappointing, but not unexpected, to read NDP Environment Minister Shannon Phillips’s brazen defence of the NDP’s carbon tax in these pages this past Saturday (“On climate change, Albertans expect their leaders to lead”, June 23, 2018).

The NDP’s carbon tax was always just a government cash grab — one that comes with considerable expense to Albertans.

While the NDP minister talks about “the interests of everyday Alberta families” in her column, the reality is that the “the interests of everyday Alberta families” are a lot more expensive with the carbon tax.

From heightened costs for schools to keep the lights on, to Albertans facing an added cost at the pumps on top of an already high fuel cost just for the crime of getting to work or driving for groceries, the carbon tax affects everybody in Alberta.

Ms. Phillips claimed that the carbon tax is needed “to secure future growth and market access through new pipelines.”

Since the NDP sprung their surprise carbon tax on Albertans, not one pipeline opponent has moved from “No” to “Yes.”

Here’s what has happened: the federal Liberal government stopped the Northern Gateway pipeline.

They tampered with the regulatory process and stopped the Energy East pipeline.

The previous U.S. administration halted the Keystone XL pipeline.

And, of course, British Columbia’s NDP government has been fighting tooth and nail to stop the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, a much-needed, job-creating project.

Meanwhile, extreme activist groups remain determined to illegally obstruct the Trans Mountain expansion project.

None of these groups or governments received the memo about the carbon tax and social licence, apparently.

These are the NDP’s fellow travellers obstructing the pipeline: including some of those organizing illegal protests, Tzeporah Berman and Karen Mahon, who Alberta’s NDP government actually named to their oilsands advisory group; or Greenpeace ringleader Mike Hudema, with whom Minister Phillips collaborated on a how-to book on stopping resource projects.

In her column, the NDP minister did find room to attribute Calgary’s Green Line LRT to the carbon tax.

She fails to mention that federal funding for the Green Line LRT came under the former federal Conservative government, announced by Jason Kenney in mid-2015, and there was no condition of a carbon tax.

The NDP’s carbon tax, from the start, has been a false bag of goods: they never campaigned on it, they just imposed it right after taking office.

In 2015, the premier claimed that revenue collected through the carbon tax would never go to pad the government’s deficit-heavy budgets, but that’s exactly where it’s going.

As time passes, the only defence the NDP seems to have for their carbon tax cash grab is to try and guilt Albertans into supporting it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I know that Albertans are smarter than that, and I know they do not believe for a minute that the only way to address climate change is through a carbon tax.