Government of Alberta does not consider jobs, taxes, royalties, or the public interest in their evidence at Northern Gateway hearings

Government of Alberta does not consider jobs, taxes, royalties, or the public interest in their evidence at Northern Gateway hearings

Edmonton – AFL President Gil McGowan will be available to the media throughout today as the Federation quizzes the Government of Alberta on their evidence before the Northern Gateway panel.

“We are very troubled by what we’ve heard so far today. The Government of Alberta did not put any evidence before the Board about jobs, taxes, or royalties, says McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing over 145,000 unionized workers.”

“The Government’s evidence confuses what’s good for foreign-owned oil companies with what’s good for Albertans. Their evidence at Northern Gateway looks exclusively at industry profits, without considering jobs or royalties for Albertans.”

The province is “blurring the lines between profits for the world’s largest corporations and the public interest,” says McGowan.

“Oil companies are capable of advocating for themselves, they shouldn’t need the government’s help. It’s the government’s job to advocate for Albertans. They are failing to do that job at the Northern Gateway hearings.”

McGowan says the Government of Alberta’s evidence – though technical in nature and written by high-priced energy consultants – really tells a very simple story.

“The government allowed a stampede of development in the oil sands, without making good on their commitment to have 2/3 of our bitumen upgraded here,” says McGowan, adding that the province’s evidence predicts only 26% of Alberta’s bitumen will be upgraded in Alberta by 2025.

The result is a flooded market of an inferior product.

The Government’s evidence shows oil companies are getting a lower price for bitumen because Alberta doesn’t force them to upgrade it before it leaves Alberta.

“We are selling the wrong product,” explains McGowan.

“If we were selling upgraded synthetic crude oil, we would be getting better prices, and higher royalties as a result,” says McGowan.

Raw bitumen can only be turned into gasoline or diesel by a small number of refineries in North America. The rapid pace of development means there is too much bitumen on the market. The choice is simple: bitumen could be upgraded to synthetic crude before it leaves Alberta, creating thousands of jobs. It could then be refined at a large number of refineries around the world. Or, it could be shipped raw to China, and take thousands of jobs with it.

“There is not one word in the Government of Alberta’s evidence about the public interest. We are left to wonder if they care about jobs and royalties for Albertans, or if the priority is profits for oil companies backing the Northern Gateway pipeline – none of which are majority-owned by Canadians,” says McGowan.


MEDIA CONTACT:  Gil McGowan, President at 780-218-9888 (cell) or 780-483-3021 (office) Alberta Federation of Labour

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