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Edmonton Chamber Of Commerce Speech - 2017

“The world can either buy (oil) from places like Russia with runaway emissions or it can buy it from Alberta – an open, inclusive democratic society, full of hope and opportunity.”

Premier addresses Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Check against delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge we are on the traditional territory of Treaty 6.

I would also like to recognize the Metis people of Alberta, who share a deep connection with this land.

Friends, it’s an enormous pleasure to stand before you today.

As you may know, this is the final stop of my 2017 Canadian pipeline tour.

I had hoped to fill Roger’s Place…

Get some lighters in the air…

Smash some guitars…

but it turns out talking about pipelines just doesn’t bring the kids out like it used to.

Maybe we need to make tee-shirts…

Sell them in the parking lot…

Maybe sell some license plates too.

But thank you all for coming today.

It’s the holiday season and I know you are all juggling very busy schedules.

And let me say a special thank you to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce for organizing the event.

I know you brought it all together on short notice.

But hey, Jason Kenney is saying my pipeline tour was all his idea…

so blame him.

If any of you happen to be in touch with him, please ask him to drop me a line and let me know what’s up next.

I’m interested to know.

Seriously, it’s important for me to get around the country and talk in blunt terms to Canadians about the importance of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline to our economy and country.

And that’s what I’m here to speak with you about today.

To update you all on our national efforts to get a new Canadian pipeline built to the Canadian coast…

And to ask for your help in doing it.

While we’re on that topic, I want to update you on Alberta’s economic recovery.

But first, I want to say something about this incredible city.

And why I’m so proud to call Edmonton home.

It’s been two months now since our city had a brush with terrorism.

And while that horrible night is something many of us will never forget, what I remember most is how Edmontonians reacted.

People like Nena Powell.

Nena is a fourth-year nursing student who works at The Pint, a pub just off Jasper Avenue.

She was working the night of the attack, when her manager told her someone outside was hurt and needed help.

She kept the injured person stable and monitored vitals while the ambulance was on its way.

When we talked to Nena, she said the most Albertan thing possible:

She said she didn’t feel like she deserved any special thanks because she was just doing what any Albertan would do.

I also remember people like Constable Mike Chernyk.

I had the privilege of meeting with him and his daughter shortly after the attack.

He talked in the calmest way about what we all saw in that video of him…

hit by a car, sent flying through the air, attacked with a knife.  

When that knife was over his face, he told me the thing he was focused on most was making sure the attacker couldn’t get at it his gun and use that gun on people.

He never stopped protecting people, and after meeting him it came as little surprise he was back on the job less than three weeks after that attack.

My friends, we are a city made up of people like Nena and Const. Chernyk.

We are a city of people who come together after that kind of event, just like we did at the vigil following the attack.

Our police, our Muslim community and political representatives of all stripes stood together to condemn that attack and support one another.

While other places are building walls and turning on their neighbours…

Our city showed the world that there’s another way.

And I couldn’t be more proud.  

And while I could go on about Edmonton, that’s not why I’m here.

I’m here to talk about our efforts to get pipelines built, so let’s get to that, shall we?

I must say, travelling the country, the reception has been very encouraging.

We had a few protesters in Vancouver, to be sure. 

And in Ottawa and Toronto, one is always impressed by the need to remind people about the contribution Alberta’s energy industry makes to a strong Canada…

…but the fact is the moderate, progressive majority in this country understands and supports Alberta’s position.

When Alberta is hurting, the whole country pays a heavy price.

And they see it in their own communities.

Before the oil price collapse, 44,000 British Columbians worked in our oil patch and paid taxes in their home province.

Think about that.

That’s $2 billion in paychecks earned in Alberta and spent in BC.

$2 billion.

Those numbers tend to get people’s attention.

Or this one – which I put special emphasis on in British Columbia.

Four provinces are net fiscal contributors to the Canadian federation:

Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

On a per-capita basis, folks in Saskatchewan contribute $554 every year to our country.

In Ontario, it’s an average of $650 per person.

In BC, it’s $886.

And in here Alberta, every woman, man and child contributes an average of $5,148 to our country…

Six times more, per person.

All in, Alberta contributes $22 billion per year more to Ottawa than we receive in return, even after the effects of the oil downturn and the recession.

As I like to say – and you may have heard me say it – there is a not a school, hospital, road, bus, bike lane, or port anywhere in the country that does not owe something to Alberta’s energy industry.

And I need you to know, when I laid out those clear facts in BC, people came up to me and said…

They had no idea our contribution was so big and we need to keep reminding people.

So armed with facts like those, I have been speaking some simple truths to Canadians about our energy industry and why we need to open up new markets.

And I have a very direct message to the federal party leaders and the UCP here at home.

To my party, the federal NDP, I said –  and say – if you want to make progress on climate action, you can’t ignore working people and their jobs.

To the federal Conservatives and their cousins in Alberta, I said – and I say – you have got to start listening up.

Every time someone brings up climate change it doesn’t help – in fact it hurts Alberta –  when you cross your arms, turn your back, and stomp your feet.

It didn’t work before and it won’t work now.

What did Einstein say…Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a good definition for insanity…

I don’t want to paint the entire UCP with that brush…

but I do appeal to them to get with the program and join us in the 21st century.

Climate change is real. It is caused by burning carbon.

And unless Alberta has a plan to tackle it, our economy will be put in serious jeopardy.

The good news is we do have a plan to deal with it.

And I am telling you, when you speak to Canadians about our climate action plan…

…a made-in-Alberta plan that reduces methane, prices carbon, expands renewables and puts a hard cap on oil sands emissions…

A plan designed in close cooperation with industry, one that protects jobs and incents innovation, like we announced this week.

When we lay out all that, our opponents quickly run out of arguments to oppose market access.

And to the federal Liberals I had one simple message. Step up.

You made the right call when you approved Trans-Mountain.

Canadians support the decision.

It comes with a far-reaching plan to protect our coast.

Now lean into that decision and lead a discussion about why it’s right for the climate, right for jobs, and right for future generations.

I must say I was pleased that following my visit to Ottawa, the federal energy minister changed tact and is now intervening in the NEB’s case against the City of Burnaby…

Along with Kinder Morgan and your Alberta government.

This is exactly the kind of head-on approach we need to getting Trans-Mountain Pipeline built.

So, keep it up.

In a nutshell, that’s what I have been saying to governments and political leaders about Trans-Mountain.

And friends, I promise you, we will keep it up. Believe me.

And to do that we need people like you to speak up.

Everywhere I have travelled – and will continue to travel – that’s what I have called on the progressive, moderate majority to do.

Because if you care about climate.

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 the global market place.

If you care about these things like I do – like Albertans do – now is the time to make our voices heard.

Now is the time to join us in this fight to open up new markets for our oil produced under strong climate rules.

Now is the time to tell our governments to build the energy infrastructure we need and build it now.

The world can either buy it from places like Russia with runaway emissions or it can buy it from Alberta – an open, inclusive democratic society, full of hope and opportunity.

That’s the choice – and those are the stakes.

And I come here today – to ask for your support as Albertans,

as business leaders,

as people who speak with authority and conviction about how critical this pipeline is to our province and our country...

And as people who live here and have had pipelines running safely through their communities for decades.

So I need you to have my back in this fight.

I have yours.

We are in this together – Albertans first, as we always are.

…which brings me to the second thing I wanted to speak to you about today.

Where Alberta is now and where we are headed.

You know, people often say to me that my timing was perfect. 

Winning government just as the worst recession since the 1930’s took hold.

But if you can’t pick your timing in politics…you can pick what you do with your time.

And frankly, our term started with one big strategic choice that has shaped these two years…one that I am very proud of.

What was that choice?

Simple.

Invest in the recovery.

That was the advice we received from the former governor of the Bank of Canada, David Dodge, and that’s the advice we followed.

It meant we did a few very specific things.

First, we helped to create good jobs by investing in badly needed infrastructure.

Second, we protected the public services all Albertans rely on.

And third, we teamed up with communities and the private sector to help our province diversify.

Let’s talk about each of those in turn.

Instead of slashing spending on new infrastructure – the economic lifeblood of our economy – we put more Albertans to work building new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals.

With interest rates low it made even more sense.

So we got to work on badly needed projects.

Take the Misericordia Hospital here in Edmonton.

As recently as 2014, the hospital had mould problems, electrical problems, and I kid you not, a fly infestation.

Fixing these issues isn’t luxury spending, it’s life-saving spending.

That’s also why Edmonton is going to finally get a new hospital in the South End, where our population is growing fast...

And it’s why we’re making critical upgrades at the Misericorda…

Creating good jobs for people in the process.

But that’s far from all.

We’re partnering with the City of Edmonton to expand LRT and the Yellowhead…

Critical investments that create jobs today and help people get to their jobs easier tomorrow.

And we’re also building new schools for our kids.

More than two-dozen across Alberta.

Again, good jobs today and better public services for tomorrow.

That’s what we’re committed to.

Now, it’s no secret that the women and men who make up Alberta’s dedicated public service are essential to what makes this city so strong and so durable.

Not only are they the best public service in the country…

but I bet for the businesses many of you operate, these women and men are also some of your best customers.

And so instead of firing thousands of teachers, nurses and public servants…

We protected the services we all rely on and the jobs that go along with those services…

Jobs and incomes that are essential to many of the businesses you operate.

So when someone tells you the easy answer to the downturn is handing out thousands of pink slips to the public service…

Ask them how jacking up unemployment and creating instability for tens of thousands of families helps the business climate here.

The answer:

It doesn’t help, and it won’t help, not one bit.

But the downturn, of course, speaks to a bigger challenge we have to address.

Everywhere I go, people tell me over and over, we’ve got to diversify.

I couldn’t agree more.

But diversification doesn’t begin in the cabinet room or any room at the legislature, for that matter.

For diversification to take root, it has to do so in the community.

With our entrepreneurs, our researchers and with all of you.

That means we, as government, must always – always! – make sure that government works for communities…

Not insist that communities work for government. 

That’s why we cut small business taxes by a third, expanded capital to businesses, and provided new grants to help entrepreneurs get their good ideas off the ground.  

It’s why we are providing stable funding to our universities and colleges, supporting our world-class researchers and training the next generation of trades-people.

It’s why we are actively working with our energy industry to attract 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 come with it…

Jobs that will help create good new opportunities for our kids, close to home.

Here in Edmonton, the Conference Board of Canada predicts the local economy will grow by 3.9% this year.

Housing starts are up and retail sales are expected to grow 8.3% this year.

We’re seeing other signs of confidence, too.

Google recognized the tremendous research capacity at the University of Alberta and brought their first-ever international, artificial intelligence research office to Edmonton.

Johnson & Johnson recognized our huge strength in Life Sciences and opened up their first-ever Canadian virtual lab at the UofA, which enables our researchers to commercialize their research and access new markets.

At Tech Edmonton, Merck is investing to create jobs here and medicine for use around the world.

Air Canada just announced they’re adding a direct flight between Edmonton and San Francisco, linking the incredible high-tech work happening here with Silicon Valley.

As Air Canada said: When you see everything that’s happening in this city and you see all the exciting things happening in the high-tech industry, adding a direct flight just made sense.

In Parkland County, Pinnacle Renewable Energy invested $85 million in a new wood pellet plant.

And Champion Pet Foods is building a $250 million, 400,000 square foot facility to make and ship Alberta grown products around the world, employing hundreds of people.

In Leduc, with the legalization of cannabis in the New Year, Aurora Cannabis is investing more than $100 million into a major new production facility, creating hundreds of jobs, from technicians to security guards.

Also in Leduc, we’re seeing our already strong agri-foods sector getting even stronger…

and no, it’s not with potato chips to match the pot production…

It’s with companies like Ceapro, where they take raw materials, such as oats, and turn them into ingredients used in high-demand healthcare and cosmetic products.

In other parts of the province, Amazon’s building a new fulfillment centre just outside Calgary, creating over 700 jobs…

In Lethbridge, Cavendish Farms has made the single largest private sector investment in Lethbridge’s history.

There’s more examples to point to and more work to do…

But thanks in large part to the people in this room, things in Alberta are looking up.

RBC had to up their growth forecast for Alberta to over 4%...

And just recently, the Conference board of Canada upped their forecast to nearly 7% growth...

Exports are up, manufacturing is up, retail sales are up, small business confidence is up.

In fact, almost every indicator that should be up is up.

But you and I both know that what counts most for our communities and working families are good jobs and economic security.

Since June of 2016, Alberta has added tens of thousands of new, full-time jobs.

We’re going to keep working with all of you to help create good jobs for people in Edmonton and throughout Alberta.

So what can you expect from us in the months ahead?

Well, I tell you what we’re not going to do.

We’re not going slash health and education, raise taxes on construction, and then blame out-of-province license plates when the economy falters.

That might be how they do things in Saskatchewan….but not in Alberta.

I’ll tell you what we are going to do.

As my Finance Minister made it clear a week ago when he met with chief economists from around the country, we will keep Alberta the most competitive place in the country to do business.

Although some people are calling for a PST…

that’s not going to happen.

We’re going to keep spending growth down, as we have done.

Under the former government, we saw years of volatile spending swings, some as high as 11%.

Those years are over.

We’ve stabilized government spending.

We cut salaries and eliminated bonuses for the highest paid executives of Alberta’s agencies, boards and commissions.

And we extended a salary freeze for management and non-union employees in the public sector.

With the economy growing and the private sector creating new jobs, we are going to keep finding savings.

But – let me be clear – the path to balance is not paved with reckless cuts.

We will get there by making careful, compassionate choices that put Alberta families first and keep our recovery going.

You’ll hear more from me and our Finance Minister over the coming months on this.

And in all this work, your commitment to this great city 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.

The businesses you run, the people you employ, the charitable work you do…

You are a driving force in today’s Alberta.

And I know you care deeply about the kind of province we’re building.

On that note, at the start of the pipeline tour, while speaking with reporters in Ontario, I was asked if the economic downturn and the hold-ups on pipelines were generating angry, perhaps parochial responses from Albertans.

You know, standard questions from the Eastern media.

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 when I spoke to the Calgary Chamber.  

And I saw it at the rally the day after the attack in Edmonton.

Ours is a province that cares about how we treat one another.

My friends,

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 Nena, helping a stranger lying on the street.

It’s in Constable Mike Chernyk who, let’s just call it, is the toughest person in Canada.

It’s in the students at the University of Alberta who sent the first made-in- Alberta satellite up into space…

…and the two Albertans now training to be Canada’s newest astronauts.

It’s in the Edmonton students who fought for and won the right to raise the pride flag at their school.

And I swear, deep down inside, somewhere, it’s in this year’s Edmonton Oilers.

My friends,

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.

Thank you again for inviting me here to speak, and for taking the time to listen.