ALBERTA

Alberta's Oil Industry Quivers Over Prospect Of Left-Leaning Province

05/04/2015 01:35 EDT | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT

A new Forum Research poll projects Alberta’s New Democrats are on the eve of winning a “historic majority” — and the province’s oil producers aren’t digging it one bit.

“Industry revenues are forecast to decline by more than $50 billion this year alone. That is more than the value of all the revenues from Canada’s mining sector,” Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said in a statement Thursday.

“Imagine that – all revenues from Canada’s mining sector wiped out in months. That is what is happening in the oil and gas sector.”

Amid plunging oil prices and market volatility, McMillan urged “now is not the time for a review of oil and natural gas royalties” — an election pledge made by NDP Leader Rachel Notley. He warned a review could “destabilize jobs further at the very time when Alberta families depend on them most.”

Forum Research poll results suggest more than 42 per cent of eligible Albertans will vote for the NDP, 24 per cent for Wildrose, and 21 per cent for the Progressive Conservatives. The remaining 13 per cent is split between those who intend to vote for the Liberals, Alberta Party or others.

“Now that the campaign is almost over, it appears the NDP are headed for a truly historic victory, almost as historic as the route the 40-year Alberta Tory dynasty appears to face,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.

Beyond the oil patch, other business leaders are also expressing concern over a possible NDP government in Alberta.

“This is no time to be making change to an unknown commodity,” Melcor Developments chairman Tim Melton told the Edmonton Sun in reference to oil. “We don’t need amateurs running this province through difficult time.”

The real estate executive was joined by four other Edmonton business leaders at a press conference Friday. They said low taxes are a central reason why young talent and businesses choose to come to Alberta over other provinces. They suggested that competitive edge would evaporate if the NDP is elected.

In April, Notley revealed her campaign platform which included a promise to hike the corporate tax rate.

But despite the hardline anti-left stances some corporate leaders are taking in front of cameras, PC fatigue is alive and real within boardrooms, according to one insider.

“It’s still the same gang, the same policy, same procedures, the same concept on entitlement,” an unnamed oil and gas executive told Reuters. “I know some neo-conservative guys who have said enough is enough.”

‘Fearmongering’ in Alberta

The message from CAPP came days after Premier Jim Prentice opined the timing of Notley’s call for a review isn’t right for the province.

“Albertans know that the last thing that this province needs right now is a royalty review, because it will undermine business confidence at the very worst possible time,” he said at a campaign stop in Calgary.

He accused the NDP leader of abandoning the province’s oil industry and the people who rely on it for jobs.

In response to Prentice, Notley said: “I think he’s definitely fearmongering, but I don’t think Albertans are buying it."

Albertans will head to the polls on Tuesday.

With files from The Canadian Press

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