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Thank you very much, thank you. I thought that was for John Baird. Well thank you, I'm so honoured to be here for my first address as the 18th Premier of Alberta.
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the presence of my cabinet colleague, Canada's best energy minister, Sonya Savage. And also, my dear friend and former colleague, Canada's second best energy minister, Greg Rickford. It's great to see my former colleague John Baird and so many great friends here. It means a lot to see so many of you.
I was just sworn in as Premier four days ago. I reminded Sonya and our fellow cabinet colleagues of the expression of former Premier Manning, our longest serving Premier, who, at a swearing-in, said to his colleagues, "I hope you enjoy your swearing-in today, because the swearing-at will begin shortly." We'll enjoy this initial moment.
By the way, it wasn't just over 50 per cent, it was 55 per cent to be precise, but who's counting? It was the largest turnout in an Alberta election in decades. We were very honoured to receive the largest number of votes ever cast for a political party in our province's electoral history on a positive mandate, a detailed platform with 375 specific positive ideas to get our economy back to work and to turn Alberta once again into a key engine of Canada's prosperity.
That's why I'm here in Canada's financial capital, to send to you, to Bay Street, to all of Canada a very clear message: that Alberta is open for business again. Alberta invites investment and, if you invest in Alberta, you will benefit from the most pro-growth policy regime in Canada. Now, Greg, you can rebut this afterwards.
But folks, I also want to send a second message today, which is that we Albertans need all Canadians, including Ontarians, to be partners in prosperity, in the environmentally responsible development of our natural resources, so that we can all benefit in the future. I'll speak more about that in a minute.
But you probably know that Alberta has been through a few years of real economic adversity. We've been living through a jobs crisis, as nearly 200,000 Albertans are unemployed and incomes are down. Much of this is because of a significant loss in investor confidence. There are a number of reasons for it, but we are acting to restore investor confidence and to demonstrate that Alberta will get back the reputation as being the beating heart of free enterprise values in Canada.
We'll do so by immediately introducing legislation in our session later this month to implement the job creation tax cut. To reduce the taxes on job creators, on employers, by one third from the provincial general corporate tax, from 12 per cent to 8 per cent. To give us, by far, the lowest general business tax rate in Canada, and one of the lowest in North America.
So, why are we doing that? Because we understand that it's the private sector, its entrepreneurs and its risk takers who fundamentally create jobs and opportunity in our market-based society. I believe fundamentally that, since the United States tax reform, we’ve become uncompetitive for investment.
Last month Statistics Canada reported this story: in the month of February, zero economic growth in Canada. The Bank of Canada is projecting anemic growth of only 1.2 per cent next year. Much of that is because of the challenges facing our energy sector. But much of it is also because of the loss of investment in the Canadian economy. We want to do our part in Alberta to turn that around.
Alberta went from having the lowest business taxes in Canada to being below Ontario. But with this significant one-third reduction in the rates we will have, as I say, the lowest rates in Canada and we will have lower combined federal provincial business tax rates than they have in 44 of the 50 U.S. states.
So we want, once again, to be a magnet for job creating investment. According to Professor Jack Mintz, this tax cut will create at least 55,000 full time private sector jobs in the Alberta economy. According to economist Professor Bev Dahlby, it will increase the size of our economy by $13 billion and increase per capita gross domestic product – basically the wealth of average Albertans – by over 6 per cent.
But that's just where we get started. Another major initiative of our government will be to move Alberta from being one of the most over-regulated and slowest moving economies, ironically, in Canada – it was an incretion of regulations and complexity over years and somehow we lost our economic mojo, but we're going to get it back with a red tape reduction strategy. I've appointed a Minister for Red Tape Reduction. Every one of my MLAs asked for that job. And his marching order is to work with all departments to identify and reduce, by at least one third, the regulatory burden on the Alberta economy within four years to make us, as I say, the freest economy in Canada.
We will also be imposing legislated timelines on regulatory agencies. Much of the flight of tens of billions of dollars of capital from Alberta's economy, primarily our energy sector, to the American energy sector is not just because of the price differential and the lack of market access – although those are major challenges – but it's also because we have a regulatory differential.
Investors can get a conventional well approved in Texas in less than a month, but it's taking upwards of 18 months in Alberta. And that is why this red tape reduction initiative is so essential, so that we are once again competitive. And we are confident that we can do this while maintaining some of the world's highest environmental, consumer and labour standards on earth. But it's by moving from a process obsessed regulatory model, to an outcome based regulatory model.
Absolutely. It's by giving fast-track treatment to the best performers in industry. If companies have a clean regulatory record, then that should be given to them as credit in accelerating approvals for major applications. And I hope that setting a new standard in Alberta, we can see red tape reduction right across this country.
Thirdly, bill number one in our legislature will be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act. Now I know not everybody agrees with this, although I think almost three quarters of Albertans certainly do. The reason we're doing this is because we believe the consumer retail carbon tax is all economic pain with no environmental gain. Not even the proponents have been able to estimate a reduction in carbon emissions resulting from this punitive tax, which makes the lives of ordinary people more expensive for, in my judgment, no justifiable reason. I don't think punishing seniors for heating their homes, or single moms for driving to work is a responsible environmental policy.
So instead of punishing ordinary people for living ordinary lives in a cold northern climate, instead we will focus on the 60 per cent of emissions that come from major industrial emitters with a levy that will reduce carbon output in the Alberta economy by, we estimate, 47 megatons. And that is without punishing ordinary people. And it's something we will work with industry in implementing in a way that is smart for business. We will incentivize in the structure of this levy innovation and technology that reduces the environmental footprint of major industry.
At the same time, let me stress this: if we as Canadians are really serious about playing a role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, the single most effective thing that we could do would be to get major liquefied natural gas pipelines and export facilities on our coasts. So that we can help Asian and other developing markets to convert their power production from high carbon coal to clean, low carbon Canadian liquefied natural gas.
Instead of just punishing Canadian consumers, how about we actually play a major role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions?
In addition to these measures, our job creation strategy involves smart immigration reforms, something I think I know a little bit about, because when I was the federal immigration minister, I increased by 800 per cent Alberta's allotment to select economic immigrants. We haven't created full value from that for the potential of newcomers to contribute fully to our economy. So we will be implementing a fairness for newcomers action plan to help to break down the barriers to economic integration and the recognition of foreign experience, education and credentials, so that newcomers can have a fair shot to work at their skill level, fully contributing to our prosperity.
We will also be adopting reforms like an Alberta version of the Chilean start-up visa to attract some of the brilliant foreign graduate students in the United States who can't get their green cards, but they want to stay in North America to start an innovative new business. A lot of them have venture capital lined up, but they can't get the permanence they need, because of the dysfunctionality of the American immigration system. We are going to give them fast track work permits leading to permanent residency if they start innovative new start up businesses in Alberta.
On top of that we already have the benefit of the most highly educated population in Canada. By the way, we also have a lot of inexpensive first class real estate available in downtown Calgary. We're going to make lemonade out of that lemon. That's my message to you. Many of you work in the financial services business and are part of Canada's business leadership. So please, my message to you is, go back to your office, talk to your CFO, ask them to take out their calculator and calculate how much they will save by moving operations to Alberta at an 8 per cent corporate tax rate.
And Greg, if you think this is competition, we're in favour of it, aren't we? Absolutely. So folks, let me now address an issue that I think you know has really become central in the future of our federation. That is the challenge of getting Canada's natural resources to global markets.
Let me begin by saying how blessed we are to possess the third largest recoverable reserves of oil on earth and the fourth largest recoverable reserves of natural gas. Those oil reserves alone at current global prices have a notional value of something like $17 trillion, and billions more for our natural gas reserves across Canada.
Imagine that. Imagine what that means for an aging society, what it means for ensuring the future of public pensions, of healthcare, of infrastructure, of education, of all of the public services that have given us Canadians one of the highest standards of living on earth.
We can see in southern European countries the fiscal implications of demographic change. We are going, notwithstanding high levels of immigration, we are going through similar demographic trends in this country at a slightly slower pace. If we want – with a shrinking tax base, but a growing population of retirees and people who are acute users of our public health care system – If we want to be able to pay for those implied unfunded liabilities in the future, then we must be able to fully develop these resources to pay the bills, and to handle our more than $1 trillion of cumulative public debts and unfunded liabilities.
So this is our ace in the hole, this $18 trillion value that we have been bestowed with. And yet, and yet, we are underselling ourselves. We are land locking ourselves. We are blocking Canada in and pinning ourselves down. It doesn't make sense. Let me say this matters for Ontario. There are 60,000 full time jobs in Ontario that are directly tied to the oil sands alone and more tied to the conventional aspect of Canada's energy industry.
It's projected that, between now and the year 2027, that 12 per cent of oil and gas jobs in Canada will be actually here in Ontario. And if you account for, for example, the many manufacturing companies that produce implements for the oil sands, that represents, by the way, $153 billion of wealth for Ontario in the next eight years, and $13 billion of revenue for your provincial government.
So this is not just an Alberta issue. It's an Ontario issue. It's a Canadian issue. And yet last year, according to a Fraser Institute study released yesterday, Canada lost $20 billion in revenue because of the lack of access to global markets, the lack of coastal pipelines. That's billions of dollars of government revenue that we're short. It represents 1 per cent of our gross domestic product.
As I said, we see projections of anemic growth, or stagnation, in the Canadian economy, much of it tied to this land locking of Canadian energy, which represents a huge giveaway to the American economy. I say to my friends on the left, if you really want to subsidize Donald Trump's economy, then continue land locking Canadian energy. Because that's exactly what you're doing.
We are engaged in a huge giveaway of our country’s greatest asset. Because we are captive as exporters to the United States as essentially our only foreign energy market, this means that we are transferring billions of dollars of wealth to the United States.
Last November the price differential between American and Canadian oil was as much as 70 per cent. They were selling their energy on global markets for $65 a barrel, and we were selling Canadian oil to the Americans for as low as $10 a barrel. We have turned ourselves into a bargain basement, like the pawn shop of global energy markets. It doesn't make sense.
This is largely because of policy. It's because we have a federal government that immediately upon taking office surrendered to a U.S. presidential veto on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, causing several years in delays. The same federal government that immediately vetoed the approved Northern Gateway pipeline and, in so doing, eliminated the opportunity for many northern British Columbia First Nations to be partners in prosperity.
A federal government that then killed TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline after they had invested $1 billion and spent six years on that project that could have realized the dream of Canadian energy independence. They did it through imposing new regulatory mandates, which they now seek to enshrine in legislation through Bill C-69. And they seek to enshrine the Northern Gateway cancellation by imposing a discriminatory ban on Canadian energy exports off our northwest coast.
By the way, there's no ban on OPEC dictator oil coming in on tankers into the Bay of Fundy. There's no ban on American Alaska tankers going through and close to Canadian waters. Only a ban on a product, bitumen, produced in only one province of Alberta, a province that has been a key engine of our prosperity. That is why yesterday in Ottawa, I have informed the Prime Minister that, if he proceeds with these two bills that constitute yet another body blow against Alberta at a moment of great adversity for us, that we will immediately launch constitutional challenges of his prejudicial tanker ban and the no-more-pipelines law, Bill C-69.
I make the latter point partly because Alberta's full participation in the constitution, Peter Lougheed's signature on the Constitution Act in 1982, was conditioned on the provinces obtaining exclusive constitutional jurisdiction over the regulation of the production of natural resources, including oil and gas.
There would not have been a deal in 1981. There may have not been a Charter of Rights, or the patriation of the constitution, were it not for that power, which is now being jeopardized by this flagrant, federal intrusion. Now I agree with the Prime Minister that we must be environmentally responsible. That is why our government will not change the current emissions cap on the oil sands even though, frankly, to me it doesn't make sense. Why would we cap our future prosperities when the Saudis, Venezuelans, Americans, Russians and Iranians aren't? But that's not the immediate challenge to our prosperity.
It's also why we will impose a levy on major emitters and we will take other action on the environment. But friends, these bills constitute, just at a moment when there's a consensus emerging that there's a lack of investor confidence in Canada, these two bills send the wrong message.
That's why I also came here to Toronto to meet with my friend and colleague, Premier Ford. I support profoundly his support for Alberta and his opposition to these bills.
Now let me close by talking about how we ended up here. Eleven years ago, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund hosted a meeting at their offices in New York City attended by two dozen interest groups to launch what they called the Tar Sands Campaign, the explicit goal of which was and is to land lock Canadian energy. That campaign has been remarkably successful. Its participants have received tens of millions of dollars of funding from foreign foundations. Much of this has been researched and documented in detail by independent British Columbia researcher Vivian Krause. These organizations were the ones behind the federal government cancelling Northern Gateway, behind these bills C-48 and C-69, behind the killing of Energy East, behind the U.S. presidential veto of Keystone XL, behind the shambles of the Trans-Mountain expansion and the endless delays around it.
And here is the curious thing: these same organizations have done precisely nothing to land lock or reduce by one barrel the energy production in the United States, which, over the same decade, has actually doubled their oil production. In fact, Barack Obama literally received an award from the American Petroleum Institute for having overseen the largest expansion in the American energy industry in its history, while vetoing our Keystone XL pipeline that would have added Canadian supply to U.S. markets and allowed for its export.
So in the same time, the same decade, global output of oil has increased by 10 million barrels per day, or about 10 per cent to 100 million barrels per day. And by the way, it's projected to increase by another 10 per cent between now and 2040. So for those who say we need to be concerned, of course, about the imperative of controlling carbon emissions and climate change. But global energy production will continue to grow to meet the growing demand. The only question for us as Canadians is whether we participate in that growing demand, or whether we surrender growing energy markets, quite frankly, to some of the world's worst regimes, regimes that use the revenues generated in order to spread extremism and conflict around the world.
The largest oil producer in the world right now is Vladimir Putin's Russian autocracy that uses much of that revenue to spread violence and division around the world. I submit that we have not just an economic imperative as Canadians, but a moral duty to at least compete with and hopefully displace some of those foreign sources of energy and global markets. I believe the world needs more Canada, and it needs more Canadian energy.
So, I close with this question, why did these groups, why did this campaign focus exclusively on Canada? While all these other countries were increasing their production? I think the answer is self-evident. Because we're Canadians. We're too nice. You know, somebody once told me, "How do you get a bunch of Canadians out of a swimming pool?" You say, "Excuse me, would you Canadians please leave the pool?" And they apologize as they do so. We were the soft targets. We were seen as the weakest kid in the schoolyard who is easiest to bully, that we would respond most to this kind of pressure.
Well, I'm here to tell you as the Premier of the province with the third largest economy in Canada, that that ended this Tuesday with the swearing in of a new Alberta government. We will no longer be a punching bag for foreign funded special interests that are seeking to apply a double standard to the production of Canadian energy that they do not to any other energy producer in the world.
When they lie about and defame the highest environmental, human rights and labour standards of any major energy producer in the world, we will assertively tell the truth about what we do so well.
So friends, let me close by saying we need to be partners, yes partners, in environmental protection. Partners in social progress. By the way, as I said to the Senate committee yesterday, if you're a progressive, you believe in social progress. Well, guess what? The Alberta energy industry has been one of the greatest engines of social progress and mobility in our country. The highest levels of Aboriginal employment and incomes in Canada, by far, is in Alberta because of that industry -- the lowest levels of poverty in Canada in part because of the wealth it’s generated, through which we have been able to contribute massively to Ontario and the rest of the federation.
We have made a net contribution of over $600 billion to the rest of the federation through fiscal transfers since 1957. Twenty billion dollars a year. And I can assure you, we Albertans are proud of that fact. We don't begrudge the role that we have historically played in sharing our prosperity and also being a place of opportunity for people who are facing dependency and unemployment in eastern Canada, who were able to move to the dignity of work in Alberta. Including people with modest levels of education who were dislocated by automation and globalization in central and eastern Canada. They found the dignity of work and opportunity, thanks in part to this industry.
So I say, if you believe in economic and social progress, if you believe that Canada has higher standards of the protection of human rights, labour standards and the environment, then please be partners with us in the environmentally responsible development of our resources. Let Ontario, let all Canadians, be partners with Albertans in the future for our prosperity.
Thank you very much. Thank you.