EDMONTON - The environment, energy and federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair are on the agenda Tuesday when leaders of the western provinces and territories get together.
"There is going to be an emphasis on environmental regulation," said Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who will host the meeting in Edmonton.
"British Columbia wants to talk about families and community development and (Saskatchewan) Premier (Brad) Wall and I want to continue to advance the Canadian energy strategy agenda."
Redford didn't refer to Mulcair by name, but said: "My expectation is we'll probably speak a little bit about the view that other national leaders have taken of western premiers in the past month or so, so it should be an interesting discussion."
Mulcair made headlines recently by saying strong growth in the petroleum industry, particularly in Alberta's oilsands, has led to a higher dollar which is hammering manufacturers in Central Canada.
Premiers Wall, Redford, and B.C.'s Christy Clark disparaged Mulcair's remarks as divisive and ill-informed. He in turn dismissed the premiers as "messengers" of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Redford said her goal is not to divide, but to unite under what she terms a Canadian energy strategy.
The plan would be for all provinces and territories to work together — and with the federal government — to advance development of Canada's energy industry and address environmental protection.
It would include, for example, working to improve rules and regulations, collective lobbying in the global marketplace and shared responsibility on trans-boundary projects such as pipelines.
Harper has said he's intrigued by the idea, and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said while in Edmonton on Friday that he supports "a collaborative approach to energy development."
Shortly after Tuesday's meeting, Mulcair himself will be in Alberta. The NDP leader has confirmed he will visit the province for two days starting Wednesday. The plan is to include a trip to the oilsands.
Redford said she will meet with him if time allows.
"It'll depend on his schedule," she said.
"I've got commitments that day outside of the province. If I can't meet with him, the deputy premier (Thomas Lukaszuk) will meet with him.
"I was pleased to see that he is going to (the oilsands area of) Fort McMurray," she added. "One of the things that I did suggest is that he should inform himself of the issues."
In fact, Redford said earlier this month she wouldn't meet with Mulcair unless he had educated himself on the issue.
She suggested Mulcair should not expect the same treatment accorded to James Cameron. The famed Hollywood director and oilsands critic paid his own visit to the region in the fall of 2010 and debated the issues in a private meeting with former premier Ed Stelmach.
Cameron said Stelmach tried to sway his opinion by pulling out a study refuting reports that oilsands pollution was leading to higher cancer rates in the region.
Redford said there won't be a repeat.
"I think back to others that have come to Alberta after they have made public pronouncements (on the oilsands)," said Redford.
"From my perspective I don't think anyone should expect that we're going to get into a situation where anyone representing the government of Alberta is going to sit in a meeting room and try to lobby Mr. Mulcair to change his mind."
Mulcair's comments have stirred a national debate on the economic impacts of the oilsands and the energy industry in general.
A Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll released Friday suggested Canadians are split on whether Mulcair is correct in his view of the oilsands and their effect on the economy.
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason is a promoter of the oilsands, but says more measured development of the resource would help the environment. He also says the province deserves a larger take of the royalties.
Non-renewable resource revenue is forecast to hit $11.2 billion in Alberta's current budget. Half of that profit comes from the oilsands.
Mason said it's sad the western premiers are responding to Mulcair's comments the way they are.
"They're trying to suggest that anybody that has criticism of policies with respect to the oilsands is un-Albertan, un-Canadian. It's kind of economic McCarthyism," said Mason.
"While I don't agree with exactly everything that Thomas Mulcair said, I think that it's an important national debate as well as an important Alberta debate. And I'm not going to support anybody that wants to curtail voices in that debate."
10. Oil And Gas Accounts For 4.8 Per Cent Of GDP
The oil and gas industries accounted for around $65 billion of economic activity in Canada annually in recent years, or slightly less than 5 per cent of GDP. Source: <a href="http://www.ceri.ca/docs/2010-10-05CERIOilandGasReport.pdf" target="_hplink">Canada Energy Research Institute</a>
9. Oil Exports Have Grown Tenfold Since 1980
Canada exported some 12,000 cubic metres of oil per day in 1980. By 2010, that number had grown to 112,000 cubic metres daily. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=9&SheetID=224" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>
8. Refining Didn't Grow At All As Exports Boomed
Canada refined 300,000 cubic metres daily in 1980; in 2010, that number was slightly down, to 291,000, even though exports of oil had grown tenfold in that time. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=7&SheetID=104" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>
7. 97 Per Cent Of Oil Exports Go To The U.S.
Despite talk by the federal government that it wants to open Asian markets to Canadian oil, the vast majority of exports still go to the United States -- 97 per cent as of 2009. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>
6. Canada Has World's 2nd-Largest Proven Oil Reserves
Canada's proven reserves of 175 billion barrels of oil -- the vast majority of it trapped in the oil sands -- is the second-largest oil stash in the world, after Saudi Arabia's 267 billion. Source: <a href="http://www.ogj.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Oil & Gas Journal</a>
5. Two-Thirds Of Oil Sands Bitumen Goes To U.S.
One-third of Canada's oil sands bitumen stays in the country, and is refined into gasoline, heating oil and diesel. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>
4. Alberta Is Two-Thirds Of The Industry
Despite its reputation as the undisputed centre of Canada's oil industry, Alberta accounts for only two-thirds of energy production. British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the second and third-largest producers. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>
3. Alberta Will Reap $1.2 Trillion From Oil Sands
Alberta' government <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/27/alberta-oil-sands-royalties-ceri_n_1382640.html" target="_hplink">will reap $1.2 trillion in royalties from the oil sands over the next 35 years</a>, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
2. Canadian Oil Consumption Has Stayed Flat
Thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and a weakening of the country's manufacturing base, oil consumption in Canada has had virtually no net change in 30 years. Consumption went from 287,000 cubic metres daily in 1980 to 260,000 cubic metres daily in 2010. Source: Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=6&SheetID=99" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>
1. 250,000 Jobs.. Plus Many More?
The National Energy Board says oil and gas employs 257,000 people in Canada, not including gas station employees. And the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the oil sands alone <a href="http://www.capp.ca/aboutUs/mediaCentre/NewsReleases/Pages/OilsandsaCanadianjobcreator.aspx" target="_hplink">will grow from 75,000 jobs to 905,000 jobs by 2035</a> -- assuming, of course, the price of oil holds up.