CALGARY - Federal Industry Minister James Moore says he expects soon-to-be Alberta premier Jim Prentice will be a welcome ally when it comes to future pipeline projects.
Prentice spent years in Stephen Harper's government in cabinet posts that included Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Environment and Industry.
Prentice stepped away from politics in 2010 to take a corporate job in Calgary.
He was also hired by Enbridge to try to bring First Nations on side with the company's Northern Gateway proposed project through northern British Columbia.
Moore says he considers Prentice a close friend and the federal government would welcome any help he can provide in moving projects such as Northern Gateway and Keystone forward.
He says federal-provincial relations were fine under former Alberta premier Alison Redford, but will probably be even better with Prentice in charge.
Prentice was elected by party members last weekend as Alberta's new Progressive Conservative leader and premier.
"I think we have someone who understands Ottawa and, for the time he has left in this mandate, hopefully we'll be able to move some important projects forward," Moore said Tuesday following a speech in Calgary.
"He was most recently working on projects with the province of B.C. and liaising with the aboriginal community, so time will tell. Those projects have their own internal dynamics," he added.
"There are some very big projects — and Canadian energy needs to get to market in order to get global markets to create Canadian jobs — so we will see what success that Jim has."
Northern Gateway would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to the town of Kitimat on the British Columbia coast, where it would be shipped overseas in oil tankers.
TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it would link up with other pipelines that run to the Gulf Coast and the U.S. Midwest.
Moore said he doesn't comment on provincial politics but wishes Prentice luck.
"Keep in touch. There's some big files to work on."
Prentice also met Tuesday with the mayors of Edmonton and Calgary, saying talks with both Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi went well.
"My objective is to strike a partnership between the province and our two big cities so we fulfil the objective of having world-class cities," said Prentice.
Nenshi, who had criticized all the Tory candidates during the leadership campaign as being too vague on their promises to the cities, said he feels confident that Prentice is both a smart and moral man with whom he will be able to have a proper working relationship.
Nenshi said in his time as Calgary's mayor, he has been through four premiers and a provincial government that has gone "from distraction to distraction" without accomplishing a lot for the cities.
"We're in a new chapter now," he told reporters. "The step now is for us to move forward and put some meat on these bones. I think the premier-designate has a good grasp of what we need to do to move forward."
Iveson also said he is optimistic about working with Prentice.
“I’m really confident that Jim understands the challenges and more importantly the opportunities that Edmonton has and that Alberta has as an increasingly urban province," said the Edmonton mayor, who complained last week that the province has in the past treated the cities like children.
"I’d say the level of debate has gone up."
-- with files from CHED