Notley: Canada Can Be Seen As A World Leader At Paris Summit
"Canada can stand before the world in December in Paris and for decades to come as one of the most progressive and environmentaly responsible energy producers."
By Susanna Kelley
On the eve of the United Nations climate conference in Paris, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it's time to address climate change in a serious way while breaking with "discredited and failed" Conservative energy policies of the past.
Those policies have cost Canada and Alberta jobs and made the country the "political football" of a single customer, the NDP Premier said in a speech Thursday.
"We need to be a world leader instead of being the world's political football as we were at the hands of our principal market and partner last week" she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday he has effectively blocked, for now at least, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's oil sands to the U.S Gulf Coast, where the Canadian-produced bitumen it carried would have been refined.
Canada must diversify and move away from its dependence on the U.S. for energy products, she said.
"Canada must find a way to export our country's energy products to the world so that Canada is not so dependent on a single customer."
Jobs in Alberta are heavily dependent on the energy industry and that will be so for decades to come, but without an effective approach to climate change, they will be in jeopardy, Ms. Notley told an audience at an event held by the Broadbent Institute in Toronto.
"Ignoring climate change is no way to develop the energy industry. Ignoring climate change is a blind alley for the energy business and for the province of Alberta, and if we continue with the failed politics of those former Conservative governments we will remain landlocked and we will face an increasingly difficult and challenging future" she said.
The spinoff jobs from energy and the social programs they support are necessary for both the province and Canada's prosperity, but will not happen without addressing climate change, Ms. Notley said, blaming past Conservative governments' policies.
"None of this is going to happen if we continue with the discredited and failed policies of the past. Conservative governments in Alberta and in Ottawa claimed to be pursuing policies in the energy industry, but the failure of those former governments to understand the challenge posed to the world by climate change and to do our share to address it have become one of the energy industry's biggest problems. And families all across Alberta and Canada are paying the price."
Ms. Notley also said austerity policies have been shown to be failures, in fact making a bad situation worse.
Instead, she said her government is intent on spending on infrastructure, stabilizing funding for health care, bringing in a $15 dollar minimum wage and making post-secondary education more accessible as way of achieving prosperity.