Ms McPherson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The government promised to get Alberta off the oil roller coaster. After committing to buy into the stalled federal Trans Mountain pipeline, we now learn that Alberta will be investing an unknown and unapproved amount of public funds in rail cars to carry oil. To the Premier: what are Alberta energy companies supposed to do to deal with the crushing price differential until rail cars are delivered next year?
Mr. Clark: We need help right now.
The Speaker: The Deputy Premier.
Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, we do need help. We needed help 10 years ago, we needed help 20 years ago, and fortunately we will continue to move forward to close that differential. One of the pieces is working through the envoy to make sure that we have the very best opportunities, to make sure that we address the differential immediately. That’s why all options are on the table. Another additional piece is to make sure we get more capacity. That’s why 120,000 barrels per day will be funded by rail if that’s what it takes. We’re certainly not going to back down from that. That’s also why we need to make sure we get pipelines.
Ms McPherson: If and when we do get rail cars, the oil market we rely on will still be severely constrained for the next few years because scheduled oil refinery maintenance in the U.S. is ongoing. Our enthusiastic investment in drilling means we’ll be over capacity in Alberta for some time. This is a long-term problem that can’t be fixed by doubling down on oil exclusively. Why are we still balancing our books, our economy, and our future on oil?
Ms Hoffman: Mr. Speaker, I’m very proud of the job that the Finance minister did in taking a number of careful, cautionary decisions to make sure that we had room for unforeseen situations to be addressed within the budget and for us to still be on track to be balanced. This is important to all Albertans. It’s important to all Albertans that we have good jobs, that we have access not just to U.S. markets but to international markets, and for the former minister of employment to say it wasn’t his job to fight for pipelines is strictly false. Absolutely it was his job, and it’s all of our jobs to fight for our market access.
Ms McPherson: The Alberta Party, industry stakeholders, experts, and finally the Leader of the Opposition have suggested curtailment. The government appears to have ignored calls for curtailment from small players in order to slow down well completion. While we will be waiting for more than a year for rail cars, Alberta will lose $4 billion in royalty revenues. Why won’t the government immediately curtail production to solve this problem today?
The Speaker: The Deputy Premier.
Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. While certainly all options are on the table, that one option wouldn’t have long-lasting, long-term impacts. It doesn’t mean that we’re ruling it out. All options are being considered. We certainly are considering it among others, but short-term options don’t lead to long-term solutions. In an interim solution we’ll be increasing capacity through 120,000 barrels per day on rail, and a long-term solution is to get the pipeline built. But don’t worry. Even though members opposite thought it wasn’t their job when they had the ability to do so in Ottawa for a decade and failed, we’ve got a Premier who’s fighting every step of the way to get the job done.