Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Convention & Trade Show Speech 2017
“We can build a nation where we tackle climate change without leaving working people behind.”
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I would like to acknowledge we are gathered here today on the traditional territory of Treaty 7.
I would also like to acknowledge the Métis people of Alberta, who share a deep connection with this land.
Before I begin, I’ve got to say, I just got back from spending a few days in Ottawa and Toronto…
…Fighting to get Canadian pipelines built.
It was a very good trip.
And next week, I’m heading to BC to talk to folks there about the same issue.
So, if you will permit me, I would like to begin my remarks today by talking about my pipeline tour and how you can help.
From day one, I have been working with the energy industry, workers and communities to support our energy industry….break the land-lock…and open up new markets for our products.
Key to that work has been our Climate Leadership Plan, a plan developed in partnership with members of our oil and gas industry.
It’s a plan that’s tailor-made for Alberta’s economy, protecting jobs in our resource sectors, creating new jobs elsewhere and helping our province diversify.
Central to that plan is the belief that combating climate change and building new pipelines aren’t competing concerns, they can and must go hand-in-hand.
Now, there are those on both sides of the issue who take extreme positions – and that doesn’t help.
But when I speak to Canadians – the moderate majority -- about what’s at stake.
…about the importance of our energy industry to the economic security of hundreds of thousands of working families across the country….
…about how we can tackle climate change and at the same time support mortgage-paying jobs…
…I find the vast majority of Canadians listen and support our position.
They know that a strong energy industry is part of a strong Canada.
They know that Alberta is Canada’s economic engine.
And they know that the question isn’t will the world need oil for some time yet.
The question is whether that oil will come from a low-carbon, responsible energy producer like Alberta – where we take climate change seriously --- or from places like Venezuela and Russia.
Our oil and gas industry is the cleanest and safest in the world.
And we’ve got to be loud and proud about that.
So as the Premier of Alberta, this is what I said – and what I am saying -- to all Canadians:
If you care about climate change.
If you care about jobs and working people.
If you care about building a society where everyone matters.
If you care about building a national economy that can compete and win in the global marketplace.
If you care about these things like I do, and still want to keep Alberta land-locked and stop us from diversifying our markets, then please…give your head a shake.
You can’t pick and choose.
Without Alberta, there is no national climate plan. Period.
With Alberta, we can build a nation where we tackle climate change without leaving working people behind.
To put the importance of our energy industry and our entire province into context:
Alberta is the largest net fiscal contributor to the rest of the country – even after the effects of the recession.
Alberta sends nearly $22 billion each year more to Ottawa than we receive in return.
Our energy industry is a major part of that.
The federal government can’t do its work for Canadians if it can’t pay for it.
That’s the bottom line.
So, on Tuesday I went to Ottawa carrying some very specific messages to the federal parties.
To the Federal NDP, I said no climate change plan that ignores working people deserves to be called a plan, so stop writing working people out of climate change action.
To the Federal Conservatives, I said stop denying climate change, stop resisting any and all meaningful action to address it, and stop the dividing Canadians.
These are tactics that have resulted in a decade of failures to get a Canadian pipeline built to the coast.
It’s time to be part of the solution, not the problem.
And to the Federal Liberal Government, I had a simple message:
On two fronts, we need you.
First, The NEB’s decision to include downstream emissions in evaluating pipeline proposals, like Energy East, is an historic overreach– something no other industry is subject to.
It should not – it cannot – be a precedent that applies to future projects.
And second, on Trans Mountain, we need this project built and we need it built now.
Now, more than ever, Canadians need our national government to articulate and defend the national interest.
Now, we’re not going to convince everyone, and that’s fine.
But as I said last week to the AAMDC, I’m going to make darn sure we hear about pipelines from people like the Mayor of Beaumont, not the Mayor of Burnaby.
And I am going to make sure that the moderate majority of Canadians – Canadians like you and me – know what our plan is, what the benefits are, and why Canadian pipelines matter to all of us.
Here’s where I need your help.
You all know the reasons we need pipelines to the coast. It’s something I know you all can speak to with authority.
Each and every one of you is a trusted community leader.
When you talk, people listen.
When you’re out of province, be it east or west, I need you to make sure everyone knows the huge value Alberta’s energy industry brings to our entire country.
There is not a school, there is not a hospital, there is not a road or public bike lane anywhere in this country that doesn’t owe something to the hardworking men and women of Alberta’s oil and gas sector.
Our oil and gas, and the pipelines that bring it all to market, are just as critical for their communities as they are for ours.
So make sure everyone knows the value of pipelines to all Canadians…
Make sure they know there is no safer way to move our resources than with a modern, carefully regulated, carefully monitored pipeline.
Make sure the nay-sayers and conspiracy theorists don’t gain an inch…
Which shouldn’t be a problem, because we have the facts on our side.
And when you see politicians here in Alberta hoping and praying we fail on pipelines…
Ask them what kind of leader thinks they’re better off when our province loses.
Friends, we’re not letting up…
Working together, we’re going to get Trans Mountain built.
And working together we’re going to build make sure Alberta remains Canada’s economic engine!
Friends, the AUMA is a key part of what makes that engine run smoothly.
But you are more than that too.
You’re Albertans who have dedicated yourselves to making life better for people…
And our province is better because you’re part of it.
To all the returning members of AUMA…
Thank you for your help, your support and your advice.
And to the many new faces I see here today, there’s lots more work to do and I look forward to working with you all to get it done.
Because the work you do as municipal leaders is a big part of the day-to-day lives of Albertans…
…and when we work together, we can make life better for people right across our great province.
So thank you.
Last week, I spoke to your colleagues in the AAMDC about growing up just outside of Fairview, and the importance of those rural roots.
Today, as you know, my constituency, and my home, is Edmonton-Strathcona…
…or as some of my opposition colleagues in the Legislature call it—“the heart of darkness.”
Well, I’ve represented that community for almost 10 years, and can say with confidence it has a lot more heart than it does darkness.
It’s a place with hundreds of successful businesses, a thriving arts scene and great schools.
It’s surrounded by our beautiful river valley, within walking distance of the incredible University of Alberta, and all of the world-class medical and research facilities that can be found on campus…
And it’s also a place of compassion—organizations like Youth Empowerment and Support Services help the most vulnerable in our community make positive changes in their lives so they can get on the right track.
I’m proud of the community I represent and I know each and every one of you share that same pride in your communities…
A pride that drives you to put in the long hours...
Hours made even more challenging because of the recession.
Because I know you want to see your friends, neighbours and communities succeed…
And so do I.
Since 2015, that’s what our government has worked to do.
We timed coming to office perfectly…
Inheriting the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.
The oil boom went bust, the cupboards were bare, and, quite frankly, the former government hadn’t done nearly enough to prepare.
We had a choice to make:
Face the reality of a tough situation or romanticize the past.
In the past, when the oil-price rollercoaster took a dive…
…the teachers who teach our kids and the nurses who care for our loved ones would have to wake up in the morning and check the oil price to know whether they still had a job.
That’s not something I’m too eager to romanticize.
Injecting that kind of volatility and uncertainty into the education our kids get, and into the healthcare our loved ones recieve, is unacceptable.
It’s unacceptable to me and I know it’s unacceptable to a lot of you.
There is no worse time to take more jobs and more money out of the economy than when that economy is already starving for jobs and paychecks.
So we chose a different path.
Rather than giving people more pink-slips, we gave them hammers, stethoscopes and laptops.
Rather than saying patients here in Calgary and Southern Alberta should wait even longer for a new Cancer Centre…
…we said let’s finally get that cancer centre built and create good jobs for people in the process.
Rather than cutting funding for our highways and bridges and crossing our fingers that nobody notices the cracking and crumbling…
We said now’s the time, while Albertans need work and interest rates are low, to build Alberta for the future.
In short, the choice before us was this:
Do we do follow the recession or do we lead the recovery?
We chose to lead.
Creating jobs by investing in our infrastructure…
Like new schools, hospitals, better highways, and transit, like the Green Line here in Calgary.
Protecting the public services people use every day…
Like home care for our seniors…
safe, modern schools for our kids…
and stable, predictable funding for the professionals who deliver our public services.
The same goes for our municipalities.
It’s why we worked with all of you, our municipal leaders, to give you more certainty, stabilizing municipal funding when you needed those services the most.
We have also worked to make things a little easier for working families…
…cutting school fees, capping electricity rates and freezing tuition.
But we aren’t stopping there.
We have to keep our eye on the future…
Doing everything we can to create jobs, diversify our economy, and protect our province from future oil price shocks.
Everywhere I go, Albertans tell me this is important.
We’ve got to diversify.
I couldn’t agree more.
That’s why we’ve provided stable funding to our universities and colleges, supporting our world-class researchers and training the next generation of trades-people.
It’s why we cut small business taxes by a third, expanded capital to businesses looking to expand, and provided new grants to help entrepreneurs get their good ideas off the ground.
It’s why we are actively attracting new petrochemical companies to Alberta, making sure they bring their good jobs and investment dollars here instead of Louisiana.
And it’s why we’re making Alberta the hottest destination in Canada, if not all of North America, for renewable energy.
Our decisions have laid the groundwork for billions of dollars of new investment in our economy.
And what’s most important about that investment is the thousands of highly-skilled new jobs that will come it…
Jobs that will help create good new opportunities for our kids, right here at home.
And I am so excited to see some of the new companies setting up shop in Alberta and creating even more good jobs…
like Google in Edmonton….
…Pinnacle and Champion Pet Foods in Parkland County…
…Cavendish Farms in Lethbridge, the single largest private sector investment in Lethbridge’s history…
RocketSpace and Swoop in Calgary…
And just a few weeks ago, in Balzac, I was proud to stand with folks from Amazon and Calgary’s incredible business community, to announce the construction of Amazon’s new fulfillment centre.
That investment alone with create 750 new jobs.
This work is getting done because we working with local officials…
Staying responsive, creative and nimble.
Just look at the bid process for the new Amazon HQ2.
It’s a textbook example of cooperation across the public and private sector, using creative ideas, cheeky messaging, and relentless optimism.
I need to give a special word of thanks to our Minister of Economic Development and Trade here, Deron Bilous, who has made sure our work on this file has remained focused, determined…
That we are forging ahead together.
And that we always – always! – make sure that government works for communities…
Not communities working for government.
As exciting as all of this is, we’ve got a lot more work to do.
And we’re going to keep working…
working with all of you…
to make sure the economic recovery reaches everyone.
Because it hasn’t yet, and that’s especially true for people and families here in Calgary.
But there are new signs of hope, and those signs are building.
Signs that say the steady plan we started with is working.
Things are looking up.
Alberta’s economy is growing, with independent experts predicting we’ll grow faster than anywhere else in Canada.
RBC had to adjust their economic growth forecast up for Alberta, from 2.9% up to over 4%.
And yesterday, the Conference Board of Canada upped Alberta’s growth forecast to 6.7 per cent for 2017.
And there’s good reason why.
Drilling activity is way up, more than double compared to last year.
But it’s not just drilling. Retail sales are up, housing starts are up, exports are up.
In fact, almost every indicator that should be up is up.
But you and I both know that what counts for families are good jobs and economic security…
And though we have more work ahead, I am so pleased to stand here today and report to you all that since June 2016…
Alberta has added more than 70,000 full-time jobs… 70,000!
At the same time as we working to create jobs, get our economy back on its feet and diversify our markets…
we are taking careful, compassionate measures to bring our deficit down.
We’ve already started to negotiate common sense agreements with labour unions…
like the agreement with teachers, which saw no pay raises in return for job stability and better services for kids.
We also brought in our Executive Compensation Framework, which says the days of lavish, out-of-whack salaries for CEOs of government agencies, boards and commissions are over.
New legislation we brought in serves notice that these publicly funded salaries are coming down, some to the tune of 50%.
It’s a good start, but we need to do more…
More so we can return to balance in a way that furthers rather than frustrates the economic recovery.
The path back to balance is not paved with reckless cuts.
Careful, considered choices about priorities will guide us instead.
We invested during the downturn to grow…
Now that the economy is improving and picking up its own momentum…
With the private sector continuing its growth…
Now is the point in the plan…
where the same steady approach that saw us through the recession is going to see us carefully and compassionately tighten our belts…
And ask others to tighten theirs.
We are going to have to continue to work closely with one another and continue to have meaningful conversations that put the well-being of Albertans first.
Rest assured that a starting point in these conversations will always be stability and predictability for our municipalities…
And stability and predictability for the important services you deliver to Albertans.
We all know we’re much more likely to see oil at $50 to $60 a barrel than we are to see it at $100.
We’re a practical province, full of practical people.
And practicality tells us to protect the priorities of everyday families while reducing spending where we can, which is what we will do.
As we refine our work on the next budget, my commitment to you is we will work with you and your communities as full partners.
You’ll hear more from me, Shaye and Joe in the coming weeks and months on this.
And in all this work, your commitment to your community and to our province is essential, because we’re all in this together.
If anything, we will need to be more nimble and responsive than ever before to take full advantage of Alberta’s economic recovery that’s underway.
And, simply put, we can’t do it without you.
You represent today’s Alberta.
And now more than ever, you reflect today’s Alberta.
These past municipal elections saw more younger people elected and more women elected.
Alberta’s changing, and I don’t think people outside Alberta realize that yet.
Earlier this week, while speaking with reporters in Ontario, I was asked if the economic downturn and the hold-ups on pipelines were generating angry, parochial responses from Albertans.
I didn’t like the implication of that question.
What I said to the reporter was they didn’t know today’s Alberta.
Today’s Alberta is young, innovative and determined.
We’re the best educated and most highly skilled people in Canada.
We’re courageous, we’re optimistic and we are part of an inclusive, diverse and dynamic province.
And I see that looking out at you all here today.
I saw it last week at AAMDC.
And I saw it in the overwhelming support we got when we passed Bill 24, a bill that protects young people who join a gay straight alliance.
Because ours is a province that cares about how we treat one another.
Alberta owns the future.
We own it in every way.
Because Alberta’s best is ahead of us.
And it’s in us.
It’s in the open arms of the families of Fort McKay, Lac la Biche and so many other communities that opened their doors to their fellow Albertans during the Wood Buffalo wildfires.
It’s in the students at the University of Alberta who sent the first made-in- Alberta satellite up
…and the two Albertans now training to be Canada’s newest astronauts.
It’s in that now world-famous Albertan out mowing his lawn during a tornado.
It’s in the students who fought for and won the right to raise the pride flag at their school.
And it’s in the waitress on Jasper Avenue, a young woman training to be a nurse, who after Edmonton’s recent brush with terror put down everything to help a stranger lying on the street.
Working together, we can chart a better course forward for Albertans.
We can build on our past and embrace our future.
We can make life better for all Albertans… together.
Thank you again for inviting me here to speak, and for taking the time to listen.
I couldn’t ask for better partners in the journey that lies ahead.