Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor

COLUMN: Spend $2.5 million on selling Alberta oil and gas; not foreign witch hunts

Costly inquiry will do little to advance Albertan interests

Spending $2.5 million to investigate foreign money in anti-Canadian oil advocacy is $2.5 million better spent elsewhere.

Since well before the 2019 Alberta Election, the United Conservative Party (UCP) has been invested in a campaign to discover how environmental groups have been funded by an apparent U.S. mission to isolate Canadian oil and gas products.

Premier Jason Kenney said the inquiry will find out whether laws have been broken and recommend any appropriate legal and policy action.

“Most importantly, it will serve notice that Alberta will no longer allow hostile interest groups to dictate our economic destiny as one of the most ethical major producers of energy in the world,” he said.

While it is clearly the role of an Alberta government to ensure economic prosperity — and oil and gas production is clearly part of any future Albertan prosperity; $2.5 million is clearly not enough coin to make a dent in deep-pocketed American environmental groups but it is enough to make a dent in Albertan taxpayers wallets.

Instead, $2.5 million could be better served showing the rest of Canada — including ongoing Alberta oil opponents in British Columbia and Quebec — that oil and gas can be part of an environmentally responsible Canadian economy.

Hunting down real or imagined foreign threats away from Canadian soil is obviously a way to drum up patriotic political support in the conservative base, but it does little to sell a changing oil and gas environmental economy to the rest of Canada.

As many Albertans know, millions of dollars have been invested towards extracting and refining oil and gas products in more environmentally-friendly ways. This is what needs to be sold to the rest of Canada who don’t live in Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lacombe or Calgary.

Spending $2.5 million on a foreign witch hunt that will likely yield no tangible results other than a possible political, “I told you so” is a waste of taxpayer dollars and should instead go towards selling innovation in the industry.

Oil and gas is a reality for the average Canadian and showing that Albertan oil and gas products can fit into an environmentally responsible Canadian economy should be the mission of the Alberta Government.

The UCP earned government on the votes of Albertans. Governments should strive to show off the innovation of those Albertans, rather than continually attacking perceived foreign threats with taxpayer dollars.

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