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Friday, October 03, 2008

Alberta’s Wildrose Alliance says Harper’s bitumen export restriction would trespass on provincial jurisdiction -- and Libertarian Party leader says Harper's "blame Alberta” tactics are dividing the country

In a press release today, former MLA and Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman says he wants Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to stand up against the Harper Conservatives and their attempt to encroach on provincial jurisdiction over natural resource wealth, particularly Alberta’s oil sands.

Of particular concern is a declaration last Friday and repeated in the Federal debate by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that his government will forbid the export of Alberta's raw bitumen for processing in countries with environmental standards lower than Canada's (such as China and the USA, though they are not named).

The Wildrose Alliance advocates that as much bitumen processing as possible take place in Alberta and desires co-operation with Ottawa.  However, this federal Conservative pledge amounts to a politically motivated challenge of Alberta's section 92A right to control its resource.

The Wildrose Alliance calls on Premier Stelmach to stand up against this attempt of Constitutional creep and issue a statement that Alberta will not allow federal encroachment on the rights of Alberta.

Stelmach has said he will reserve comment and judgement on Harper’s remarks until after the election. Hinman isn’t happy with this decision:

"Silence is never a defence," says Paul Hinman, adding that "Canada was founded as a federation and we are proud Canadians and proud Albertans."

Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young thinks Harper, like Prime Ministers before him, is scoring political points with a “blame Alberta” agenda:

“Harper is a student of history. He know that ‘blame Alberta’ rhetoric win votes in Eastern Canada, but it also hurts national unity. He’s sounding more and more like an Ottawa politician -- tax oil and gas income trusts, impose emission targets, ban oil exports. This is Harper’s national energy program,” said Young.

“I like Paul Hinman, and I’m glad he’s speaking out for Alberta’s oil patch. Stelmach is silent on this issue because still trying to figure out why Alberta’s oil patch jobs went to BC and Saskatchewan. It’s amazing how quickly industry responds to tax hikes and government meddling," said Young commenting on the decision by Stelmach to increase oil and gas royalty taxes.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on October 3, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink


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"The Wildrose Alliance calls on Premier Stelmach to stand up "

How about Stelmach stands up and demands that bitumen be processed in Alberta, in the first place.

Posted by: Sounder | 2008-10-03 2:06:35 PM


Funny how Stephen Harper stands up for Alberta manufacturing, jobs, and economic benefits more than Ed Stupid does.

If the bitumen was located in the US, do you think they would tolerate the export of this raw material to Canada? No flokking way.


Posted by: epsilon | 2008-10-03 3:21:00 PM

What the hell has Stelmach done to the economy of Alberta that would make it profitable to move a heavy raw material of mostly sand, burning a lot of diesel to do so, so that some one else could cook it to remove the petroleum? If that's the case, Alberta's problem is not only Harper's liberal lite NEP but the disaster on the North shore of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-10-03 5:36:07 PM

It is an obvious error in constitutional law to suggest that the federal government does not have th right to regulate interprovincial and international trade.

It is a complex economic question whether it makes sense to export bitumen. I haven't seen any public analysis that would make the case one way or the other - but then I haven't searched, either.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-10-03 11:45:41 PM

John, bitumen is the heavy oil that is stripped from the sands.

This heavy bitumen is then diluted with petroleum distillate to make it flowable. This is what would be exported to the states.

The bitumen is then "cracked" with the addition of hydrogen to create synthetic crude or smaller sized molecules. These are called upgraders.

From there, the material goes to a refinery from which we get gasoline and diesel.

I believe this to be the process but others may correct me if there are errors.


Posted by: epsilon | 2008-10-04 12:17:40 PM

Grant Brown: Does the constitution not say that the province has sovereignty over its natural resources?

If it does, how can Ottawa tax what doesn't belong to it? Not that they have the natural right to tax anything, but I think resources are outside their scope.

Posted by: attitude | 2008-10-04 1:12:24 PM


I'm sure you can read sections 91 and 92A of the Constitution Act (1867) as well as I can. The legislatures' "sovereignty"(your terminology is not that used in the constitution) over natural resources does not derogate from Parliament's power to regulate trade or impose taxes.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-10-06 1:38:15 AM

Do you really believe this was a stab at the States? I thought it was only directed at China, which would be a good thing. The States have environmental standards equal to ours, don't they?

Posted by: dp | 2008-10-06 2:01:10 AM

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