Alberta Premier Danielle Smith sent a clear message of dissent last Friday in response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “Sustainable Jobs Act.” The legislation, aimed at eradicating the Canadian oil and gas industry, was met with a defiant “no” from Smith.
The premier argued that the oil and gas sector continues to be sustainable due to advances in emissions reduction technologies. “Alberta will not recognize, cooperate with, or enforce any attempt to phase out our province’s oil and gas industry or workforce. This is non-negotiable,” stated Smith, highlighting Alberta’s determination to preserve its fossil fuel industry.
Canada would be much better off if we Just Transition Justin Trudeau out as Prime Minister! https://t.co/3cc6dRKeF1
— Wally Farfusinski (@wfarfus) June 16, 2023
The Trudeau government’s “Just Transition” legislation, now repackaged as the “Sustainable Jobs Act,” has long been a point of contention for Alberta. Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson claimed the new law represents “new opportunities” for workers, particularly in critical minerals, biofuels and hydrogen.
However, these broad strokes didn’t resonate with Smith. As she rightly pointed out, regulating Alberta’s energy sector and natural resources falls under constitutional rights and provincial responsibility. According to Smith, any recommendations from the federal advisory council must align with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan.
Alberta previously chastised the Trudeau administration for suggesting that oil and gas workers displaced by the green new deal could find employment in the “green economy” as janitors and truck drivers. In response, Smith firmly resisted Trudeau’s goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, dismissing it as “unachievable.”
With the Sustainable Jobs Act yet to pass through the House of Commons, Smith is taking a stand on the future of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan, targeting a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, will be the core of this battle.
This provincial plan emphasizes the investment in emissions reduction technologies and advocates for increased export of liquid natural gas to replace higher-emitting fuels internationally. Premier Smith reiterated that Alberta’s efforts to transition to a greener economy should refrain from phasing out the current oil and gas industry and its workforce.
While the Trudeau administration may insist that Alberta’s oil workers can transition their skills or be retrained for a new economy, critics argue that it’s too vague a proposition, lacking essential details.
Alberta’s Premier isn’t standing alone. Smith is poised to collaborate with other provinces to “fight back against Ottawa.” The battle for Alberta’s fossil fuel industry isn’t just about defending jobs; it’s about constitutional rights, provincial autonomy and the natural transition to a more sustainable future. Smith has shown that she’s prepared to fight for Alberta’s rights to develop its resources and shape its future.