Canada readies Alberta aid package as Frontier deadline nears

  • Canada readies Alberta aid package as Frontier deadline nears

Canada readies Alberta aid package as Frontier deadline nears

The $20.6-billion mega project in northern Alberta has already been approved by the non-political regulators, but Liberal the natural resources minister said last week that the federal government may delay approval of the project unless Alberta drops its opposition to Ottawa's carbon tax.

The federal cabinet has until the end of the month to decide on the $20.6-billion megaproject proposed near Wood Buffalo National Park in northeastern Alberta.

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.

"I'd note that the province's methodology for calculating oilsands emissions is the same as used under the former NDP government - which the current federal government had previously endorsed", wrote Jess Sinclair.

Options under consideration in the aid package, to be featured in the upcoming budget, reportedly include a cash injection to help clean up thousands of inactive oil and gas wells abandoned by bankrupt companies.

The Liberal caucus under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is said to be deeply divided over the decision due to environmental concerns, suggesting some cabinet members might seize upon opportunities to cast doubt on its merits or delay it.

"I think that would be a devastating message to send in terms of investor confidence at a time when we are struggling to attract foreign direct investment to the Canadian economy", Kenney told a business audience in Washington, D.C.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan's Scott Moe say they see signs that tensions in their relationship with Ottawa are beginning to ease.

"The problems surrounding Teck Frontier are separate and different".

The chief of one of those communities wrote in a letter to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson that Alberta has so far done little to accommodate his First Nation's concerns over environmental monitoring and wildlife conservation.

Nixon said on Thursday that he had positive encounters with his federal counterpart and the idea of a quid pro quo never came up.

"Here in Alberta, it would be interpreted as a rejection of our most important industry and could raise roiling western alienation to a boiling point - something I know your government has been attentive to since the election", Jason Kenney said in the letter, dated February 5, 2020.

"We're not going to show all our cards in the middle of the card game". A rejection from Ottawa now would signal to investors that no matter such efforts, jobs can eventually be scuttled by an "arbitrary political decision" made with no openness, he specified.

While there was some discussion among the United Conservative Party about scrapping the emissions cap in the lead-up to last year's provincial election, Kenney softened that position after his party won, saying the cap is "academic because we are nowhere close to hitting it". The federal price on carbon for Albertans, excepting large emitters, came into effect January 1, 2020.

"The Teck mine proposal would just join the twenty other oilsands projects sitting on the shelf because they don't make economic sense in a world moving away from oil", said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada.

"If the Liberals reject the Teck Frontier mine, Albertans will perceive that as a rejection of Alberta from Canada", the Alberta MP told reporters in Ottawa. "That's where the vast majority of my voters are".