Mr. Clark: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Economic diversification has long been the dream of governments in this province, for as along as most of us can remember, but the question remains: what is the role of government in encouraging that diversification? This government has not surprisingly taken a hands-on approach, which could mean that it is government, not the free market, that chooses winners and losers. To the Minister of Energy: what assurance can you provide that your plans will not distort the market and put taxpayer dollars unduly at risk?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Energy.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, again, you know, the parts of Bill 1 that we introduced today and had a press conference about the next details show that we’re taking a competitive approach. We have three areas: petrochemical diversification round 2, partial upgrading, and a feedstock strategy to supply those feedstocks to the projects. With them, there are incentives to build, but in the case of PDP they will not be getting any of those BRIK, or bitumen royalty in kind, dollars until the project is up and running.

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.

First supplemental.

Mr. Clark: It still sounds like government choosing over the private market, Mr. Speaker.

Given that Alberta already has one of the most diverse economies in Canada and given that we don’t have as much of a economic diversification problem as we do a government revenue diversification problem, again to the Minister of Energy: can you quantify the problem you are trying to solve? Can you provide data that shows specifically that any investments of taxpayer dollars will be better used to subsidize private investment than they would be funding core services or reducing Alberta’s substantial deficit?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, this diversification plan is something that we heard loud and clear from Albertans. They’re tired of the boom and bust. When prices are high, everything is good. When prices are low, everybody is getting laid off, and the economy is in jeopardy. So we’ve launched a diversification plan to do just that. I was just in Houston last week, and I know and saw first-hand how competitive it is. We have a plan, something that hasn’t been around since Premier Peter Lougheed. This is a government that’s going to lead. We have a plan, and we’ve put the stake in the ground that Alberta is open for business.

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.

Mr. Clark: Mr. Speaker, given that the Auditor General has recently reported that the APMC, which is the agency which will be responsible for this program, isn’t able to prove it is managing the risks associated with Alberta’s substantial investment in the Sturgeon refinery and given that this is far from the only area where this government or its agencies have failed to define objectives, track risks, or report either of those to Albertans, again to the Minister of Energy: what specific, measurable objectives will you create for your diversification programs? How will those be reported to Albertans and when?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we did with PDP 1, it was an open and transparent process. It was a competitive process, and it was reported publicly. We will do the same. We welcome the Auditor General’s comments on how we can do better. We’re absolutely following up on that. All these endeavours: as we go forward, these processes will be open and transparent. You can check our website. We will be reporting back to Albertans on a regular basis. There will be no secrets.


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