Okay....so the world is going through a man-made economic recession, that's old news. But the effects of the credit crunch are being felt here in Alberta as well, which a lot of folks thought would remain immune to the problems created by the U.S fed. Our Premier, Ed Stelmach is running around Europe trying to convince investors there that the oil sands projects are a great investment in these tough economic times.
While rest of Canada (Ontario and Quebec in particular) is hardest hit, "Wildrose Country" is faring much better. But effects are being felt here as well. Less people will be employed in the oil sands this winter and the labour markets in Calgary and Edmonton have become competitive. And with the price of oil much lower than it was last year, the royalty money that the province will get won't be as huge as previous years.
But this is the right time for Alberta to diversify it's economy and invest in it's public infrastructure. Not only will help people stay employed, but it could prepare us for the future by investing in new technologies and industries. Trying to persuade the tree hugging Europeans to invest in the oil patch is like inviting the pope to a stag party. Instead, the premier should sit down with PM Stephen Harper and discuss a way forward for Alberta as it is the driving engine of the Canadian economy.
Stelmach also missed the regional meeting of the Canadian Premiers, in which there was an agreement about infrastructure investment where Ontario and Quebec were pushing for a high speed rail service between Toronto and Quebec city. I believe that Alberta should also go ahead with it's own plan for a bullet train corridor between Calgary and Edmonton.
The downturn in the economy is a blessing in disguise for Alberta's tar sands and we should use this opportunity to initiate creative plans for the future economic stability of Alberta. Let's not put all our eggs in one basket and consider alternative energy sources such as nuclear power. The government doesn't have to be in a rush to sell the oil, and sell it cheaply. Time for the politicians to get smart and get to work.