This Week in Alberta - Blue Grits
Signalling a major shift in the party's energy policy, the Alberta Liberals unveiled Monday several proposals for revamping the sluggish oil and gas sector, including lowering royalties in some cases.
Calgary Grit MLA Dave Taylor, the party's energy critic, said the province's main industry is hurting, especially companies involved in natural gas.
While weak commodity prices have converged with a significant expansion of shale gas production in the United States, the Stelmach government's constant royalty changes have added to an uncertain climate for producers and investors, Taylor contended.
"The oil and gas industry is the backbone of our economy," Taylor said in Calgary, as he released the party's new oil and gas policy.
Personally, I favour high royalties. I think the government should squeeze as much out of the oil companies as they can - after all, it's not like the oil is going anywhere if drilling slows.
But this is a great strategic move from the ALP. The biggest stigma the party faces is that it's "un-Albertan". And the perception that they're battling with the oil companies doesn't help - even last election, Stelmach revived the ghost of the NEP.
Beyond the message itself, I like that they're doing this early - with the Wildrose Alliance surging, Alberta politics has entered an unusually turbulent two year pre-writ period. Now's the time to position yourself, not during the election.
The use of Taylor to deliver this message is also an interesting, and welcome, decision. Yes, you want to put your leader front-and-centre, but there's nothing wrong with using designated hitters for certain issues/constituencies - consider Taylor the Liberals' response to Ted Morton.
ALSO IN THE NEWS...
-Another defection from the PCs to the Wildrosers
-Someone by the name of Flanagan writes about Alberta's political culture. I don't know who he is, I've never seen him in Alberta, but the article does make for an interesting read.
-Rick Mercer rides a roller coaster with Danielle Smith
-Daveberta on Smith's free ride with the media