Nally defends energy ‘war room’, touts Alberta’s economic future in speech at trade fair

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Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally defended the province’s Canadian Energy Center as critical to Alberta’s recovery in a speech at the Oil Sands Trade on Wednesday Show in Fort McMurray.

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In his speech, which was originally due to be delivered by Prime Minister Jason Kenney, Nally described criticisms of the so-called “war room” and its $ 30 million budget as “the talking points of the opposition ”.

“For the first time in the history of the province, we had a government that said that not only will we stand up and fight for energy, but that we will support it with a fund of $ 30 million,” he said. he declared. “I make no apologies for the war room because the war room is spreading the message and defending our number one industry in this country.”

The Canada Energy Center was founded as a provincial crown corporation at the end of 2019 as part of a government “fight back” strategy.

Shortly after COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020, the province slashed the agency’s $ 30 million annual budget by about 90%. Paid advertising campaigns and work with contractors have ceased. The provincial budget released in February restored funding to about $ 12 million.

But the polarizing organization is ready to relaunch its campaigns. An August request for proposals solicits arguments to “build a social movement” supporting the industry.

“Even the most conservative estimates predict that the world will depend on oil and gas for decades to come. We have to stand up for this, ”Nally said. “Alberta’s tar sands have a bright future.

The effectiveness of the Calgary-based center has been questioned by critics, especially after the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. NDP energy critic Marlin Schmidt argued the new campaigns were the wrong approach to diversifying Alberta’s economy.

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“We need a strong plan to diversify Alberta’s economy so people can return to work,” he told The Canadian Press earlier this month. “Posting more ads to make people feel good about the current situation does nothing to achieve these goals. “

A “strong energy industry” to come: Nally

Kenney’s visit was canceled as the UCP caucus and COVID-19 cabinet committee met to discuss the increase in cases and the vaccine passport program. Energy Minister Sonya Savage was originally scheduled to replace Kenney.

Nally praised other sectors of the province’s economy in her speech. There are now more than 3,000 tech companies in Alberta, he said, up from 1,300 in 2018. He said the economic incentives for movies and TV shows were a success, citing the HBO shoot. . The last of us and a fifth film in the Predator franchise in Alberta.

“I jokingly tell people it’s not Corner gas. These are big Hollywood productions that are filmed right here in Alberta, ”he said, predicting that the industry will create 9,000 jobs this year. Coincidently, Corner gas Star Brent Butt was scheduled to perform at the show’s Thursday lunch.

There are skilled trades shortages in Alberta, Nally said, and he predicted that oil and gas will provide long-term prospects for young people. He marveled at the oil industry’s technological achievements in recovery and production, which he said were on the rise.

“If there are young people today who are wondering what they want to do for a career, I would say get into energy,” he said. “A youngster could have a solid career in the energy industry… and retire from the oil and gas industry and it will still be a strong energy industry. “

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He did not comment on the election, but accused the federal government of not providing any support to the tar sands at the start of the pandemic. He has not commented on the billion-dollar federal aid Alberta received last year to help clean up the province’s orphan wells. Nally also said the planned completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will be a big day for Alberta’s oil industry.

“There are obstacles to overcome, but together we will never stop fighting for the truth and you will never stop showing the world what Alberta is capable of,” he said.

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