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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Alberta Lougheed's Warnings Trump the Harper Cabinet Shuffle

The Federal Cabinet shuffle was announced yesterday and the same day Peter Lougheed stole the headlines from Harper, at least in Alberta and the Globe and Mail.

As for the Federal Cabinet, I defer to The Enlightened Savage and his analysis. Save for one point – Jim Prentice is going to have his hands full. Productivity and competitiveness will be two issues that will not be tackled in the time left before an election. However continental energy supply and Canadian-US relations will be a big issue for him to deal with.

With Maxime Bernier in Foreign Affairs and American angst over homeland security – and reliable energy supply security being a big part of that concern will give Minister Prentice plenty to chew on. I posted an Editorial on Policy Channel on this issue if you are interested.

As for Peter Lougheed, with his speech yesterday at the Canadian Bar Association annual meeting, he has now changed the political priority agenda in Alberta and has positioned our fed-prov dynamic in the most dramatic of terms.

Will the Harper government engage in an environmental battle with Alberta over oil sands development and trust the Supreme Court to decide the issue on a Reference. I do not think so. Will the trade-off between environmental concerns and growth of the oils sands cause a constitutional crisis 10 times bigger than the NEP? I don’t think so.

I will have more to say about Peter Lougheed’s speech and the implications and fall out in later postings – and after I have read the speech. One thing for sure – Lougheed’ speech, as reported, is going has made a huge difference in what Alberta will be about and how we will relate to the rest of Canada.