Standing in front of Edmonton’s east-end upgraders, Notley said she will establish a royalty regime that rewards companies for adding value to provincial resources at home.
“I believe there is a better way to build Alberta’s economy, to put refineries like these at the heart of our future growth and prosperity,” Notley said. “Jim Prentice says that it can’t be done, but I say that’s because he doesn’t have the right priorities.
“With the right priorities, we can build value-added capacity right here.”
The goal, she said, is to establish “long-term, sustainable, mortgage-paying jobs” in Alberta.
“It’s profitable to ship 18,000 jobs down to Texas because that’s the environment this government has created,” Notley said. “As premier, I will work with our partners in industry to add value, to create more jobs in Alberta.”
Four out of five Albertans believe government should take steps to increase the amount of upgrading and refining done in the province, and 73 per cent say companies should pay higher royalties when they export raw bitumen, according to a 2012 ThinkHQ poll.
A royalty review commissioned by the Alberta government in 2007 concluded “Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development.” The review recommended, in part, that Alberta introduce an “upgrader royalty credit” to encourage the construction of additional upgrading capacity in the province.
Notley said Tories stopped talking about it because of the 2008 recession and the electoral threat from the Wildrose, which received much of its early funding from oil companies angered by the royalty review.
“We had eight or nine upgraders planned for the industrial heartland a mere seven years ago, and then they stopped because of the slowdown in 2009, and there were a number of economic arguments for going elsewhere,” Notley said. “But to be clear, those arguments were never that it wasn’t profitable to do it here, it’s that it was more profitable to do it somewhere else.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice did not comment on the NDP announcement.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he has been lobbying for more than a decade to see Alberta add value at home.
“Yes to more upgrading and refining,” he said. “But we can’t have cronyism and we can’t have corporate welfare.
“We do not believe the private sector should be given handouts. They should be given an environment in which they can be competitive.”
NDP leader pledges more upgrading, refining in Alberta