Thursday, September 20, 2007

Please Premier Stelmach - Do Not Delegate Royalty Issue to Energy or Finance

Then Stelmach says “… the two Ministers will bring that forward to caucus.” It is the latter comment that scares me.

It would be prudent for the Premier to be personally in on any and all meetings with the oil industry. He needs to hear first hand what they have to say. It would also be appropriate for the details of the oil industry problems and presentation materials to be released publicly too…ideally in advance so the resource owners can know what the industry has problems with and why.
This is not the stuff of deal making behind closed doors, In fact as a show of good faith it would behove the oil industry representatives to go a step further and act as if the Lobbyists Act was already in force and make every effort to voluntarily comply over their issues.

There are indications in the Royalty Review Report that the Department of Energy had difficulty being forthcoming with the Review Panel because their data was seen as unreliable. The Royalty Review Report is reported as saying the Department of Energy is in a difficult conflict position because it wears so many hats. For those reasons alone it would be advisable for the Premier to keep control over this file and not delegate it to Energy but keep them involved.

As for delegating it to Finance that too would be a mistake. One has to merely remember the current Minister was once kicked out of the PC Caucus for making up stories about knowing where there were alleged "skeletons." Has he even kept his promise to disclose his leadership campaign contributions – and it has been 10 months. The Premier would be legitimately cautious about the credibility of any briefing from that Minister about such a critical aspect of Alberta’s future.

I hope you proceed with caution Mr. Premier and hear out the industry concerns. They better are based on facts supported by current evidence and not on a 1997 report like in the earlier presentations of some industry submissions to the Royalty Review Panel.

And please Mr. Premier, what ever you do, get your information on this critical issue first hand.