EDMONTON, AB (February 24, 2012): Premier Alison Redford’s decision to pull the plug on a bitumen upgrading agreement with Alberta’s First Nation groups exposes another gap in her so-called Canadian Energy Strategy.
After Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly questioned Redford’s plan – saying he doesn’t know “what it means” – Redford’s decision to nix the $6.6 billion Alberta First Nations Energy Centre (AFNEC) – which would have processed 125,000 barrels of raw bitumen a day under the province’s Bitumen Royalties In Kind (BRIK) program – clearly shows First Nations aren’t a part of Redford’s energy scheme. “First, she’s failed to get the Prime Minister on side with her mysterious scheme and now she’s shutting out First Nations groups,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “If Ms. Redford’s objective here is to gain broad support for Alberta’s energy sector, she’s off to a pretty poor start.” The AFNEC deal highlighted the importance of First Nations sharing in and contributing to the prosperity of oil sands development in Alberta and in addressing Albertans' widespread concerns about capturing full value from our energy products. Wildrose Energy Critic Paul Hinman said cancelling the AFNEC deal was rash and premature. “A lot work went into this agreement over a long period of time and there was nothing to suggest it wasn’t going to be economically viable under the terms of the agreement,” Hinman said. “Ms. Redford owes Albertans an explanation as to why she made the abrupt decision to the pull the rug out on this deal. Why was this project cancelled?” The Wildrose Caucus stands for free enterprise, less government, increased personal freedom and democracy.