More, or less, oil and gas?

As one of the world’s oil and gas powerhouses, Alberta regularly struggles with one question: Should the provincial government encourage economic diversification away from fossil fuels?

Revenue from oil and gas production, big private-sector investment, low taxes, are among the benefits of Alberta’s fossil-fuel powered economy. But the downside is also significant: high carbon emissions, boom and bust cycles, shortfalls in government revenue when energy prices are low.

A fork in the road is looming. The political party that wins the May 29 provincial election will lead Alberta to either strengthen the oil and gas economy, or accelerate its diversification into cleaner, more resilient industries.

UCP Premier Danielle Smith is championing a strong Canadian oil and gas sector that contributes to global energy security, particularly in the wake of Russia’s weaponization of its oil and gas exports. Japan and Germany are latest countries to appeal for more supplies from Canada. Smith supports increased exports of liquefied natural gas to replace coal, and a reduction in carbon emissions through advancements in technology.

“Canada has the potential to become a global energy superpower with all of the economic and political influence for good that such standing would grant us,” Smith said in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We can and must seize this opportunity without delay. Please come to the table and work collaboratively with Alberta on likely the most important economic issue facing this country in a generation.”

Smith has appointed an advisory council of oilpatch leaders, chaired by long-time analyst and oil executive David Yager, to provide a vision for Alberta’s energy future. A report is due by June 30.

The Alberta NDP, which pushed strong climate change initiatives during its years in power that discouraged oilpatch growth, would provide incentives to promote economic diversification in areas like petrochemicals, technology, film and television, agriculture and Indigenous enterprises.

The NDP is worried that energy investment remains low while cash flows are high, and that Alberta is missing out on the industries and the well-paying jobs of the future.

“For generations, Alberta led the country in private and public sector capital investment, in GDP, and in high wages,” leader Rachel Notley said. “It is positive that our GDP and exports rebounded in 2022 on the strength of our energy sector and global commodity markets, but to ensure high-paying and sustained job growth we have got to increase our competitiveness, productivity, and levels of capital investment across the economy.”

Alberta is by far Canada’s largest oil and gas producer. Alberta produces about 80 per cent of Canada’s oil (concentrated in the oilsands) and 63 per cent of Canada’s natural gas.

Among oil producers, Canada ranks fourth behind the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Canada ranks sixth as a producer of natural gas after the United States, Russia, Iran, China and Qatar.

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This Issue deals with the following Policy Cards

Policy Cards are policy action items that voters want the candidates to support if they’re elected. Tell the candidates which policies you support by voting on the Policy Cards!


Support the Oil & Gas Sector

I support this I’m against this


Slow Down Fossil Fuels Exploration

I support this I’m against this


Strong Action on Climate

I support this I’m against this