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Smith says oil and gas jobs aren't going anywhere as she slams federal 'just transition'


Alberta's premier insists she is willing to work with Ottawa on trying to reduce carbon emissions but vows to "fight" the prime minister on controversial legislation dubbed "just transition."

Danielle Smith said all options are on the table to combat the bill, including using the province's new sovereignty act.

Justin Trudeau's Liberal government insists the legislation, which has yet to be tabled, is about creating future jobs in "clean sources of energy" but Smith doesn't think workers will need that help.

"The reality is these industries will not disappear. We are not phasing out oil. We are not phasing out natural gas. Oil and natural gas are going to be an essential part of the economy for decades to come," Smith said Tuesday in an interview with CTV News Edmonton.

"[The federal Liberals] think that this industry is going to be wound down and that these high paying, good jobs are going to be eliminated. And that's what I object to. We have to reject that paradigm. That's just not going to happen."

Smith wrote on Twitter that Trudeau's plan "will eliminate 2.7 million jobs - according to a Liberal memo."

The figure Smith quoted is from a ministerial briefing note. It is the sum total of all jobs, in all sectors, expected to be affected as a low-carbon economy takes shape.

The document posted to Canada's website states that while the economy is projected to grow during the transition to net zero, communities heavily dependent on fossil energy production will be disproportionately affected.

That includes Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, provinces that produce a significant amount of oil and gas.

To help meet emissions targets, the note states larger-scale transformations will take place in several sectors including energy, agriculture and forestry.

It also states that the transition to a "low-carbon economy" could potentially lead to the displacement of 50 to 75 per cent of workers employed, directly or indirectly, in the oil and gas sector by 2050.


Alternatively, it says oil and gas jobs could remain common if Canada chooses to pursue opportunities around hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage.

The premier said she supports the development of those technologies but wants Ottawa to drop the "just transition" name and let Alberta be a leader in the process.

"I have had one conversation, which was a courtesy call, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where I told him that Alberta was onboard with the notion of carbon neutrality. That we had the Pathways Project, our petrochemical industry, Dow Chemical, Air Products, that are all working on carbon-neutral projects," Smith said.

"I told him that we were interested in exporting LNG and getting credit for reducing international emissions. I told him that we were sending someone to COP27 to tell the good news story on carbon capture and storage. That was my one and only conversation with the prime minister."

In a letter posted by the Edmonton Journal Tuesday, Edmonton Centre MP and Liberal cabinet minister Randy Boissonnault agreed that he doesn't like the "just transition" name, but disagreed wholeheartedly with Smith about what the bill is intended to do.

"While a cabinet minister can’t release the contents of a piece of legislation before it’s tabled in the House of Commons, I can be unequivocal about this: with our sustainable jobs plan, your federal government is interested in creating and supporting jobs, not eliminating them," he wrote.

"The opportunities emerging from the evolution of energy represent great promise for Alberta workers. As part of our plan to lower emissions and spur economic growth, the federal government will support these workers in acquiring the skills they need to secure these jobs."

Boissonnault also acknowledged that "of course, there will still be jobs and careers in the oil and gas sector."

Smith said she is willing to talk or meet with Trudeau at any time but said it's "not acceptable" that he continues to create "tension and division" with this legislation.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notely called on Trudeau Tuesday to scrap the legislation and said Ottawa's emissions targets for 2030 are unrealistic.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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