Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Armchair Look At Premier Stelmach's Coming Week As He Announces the Royalty Review Decision.

So here is what next week looks like on the Alberta energy policy and royalty review scene. I have no inside information but experience and common sense makes this set and sequence of events seem logical.

Tuesday the Cabinet meets and the final decisions are made about the official response to the “Our Fair Share” Royalty Review Report. I’ll bet there will a quick taping to edit in of some additional commentary by the Premier for his scheduled televised speech on the government’s position.

On Wednesday in the Premier's televised chat do not expect the official royalty review announcement. Mainstream media are salivating that this will be when it happens and some still think he will make an election call that night. Astonishing!

The issues on the royalties are too complicated and critical a decision for a pretaped TV presentation. Besides there are lots of other issues that need to be covered in the TV event too. I expect he will say something significant to Albertans about the royalty review and that is he will say that his government has come to a decision and stay tuned for the announcement.

On Thursday morning there will be media lock up and detailed briefing on the “Our Fair Share” Review and the government’s response. There will be a late morning or early afternoon new conference with a full statement and rationale for the decisions and that is when it will be announced. There will be lots of announcement details and updates with web links for Albertans to get direct unfiltered and unmediated access to the decision. There will be backgrounders that gives the thinking and analysis behind the decision. The Premier will have to be ready to give reasons for the decision and to sell it.

Friday will be action and reaction day with a media feeding frenzy looking for controversy and conflict. Stupid things will be said, and of course reported on. Thoughtful commentary will be limited and delayed because it takes time to study and reflect on the implications of the decision.

Saturday morning the Premier will spend an hour at the Progressive Conservative Party Policy Conference in Calgary. He will be walking his party membership through the panel process, the government review process and the principles that were included in the “balance” he is looking for and he will answer questions from the floor. That will not be an easy time.

There will be lots of talk about the need for balance in the announcement. Balance is not going to be about a compromise between the “Our Fair Share” recommendations and the fear mongering from industry as most media are currently seeing and over simplifying the issues and trying to define the "conflict." It will be about designing, defining and deploying a balance that is much more complicated than that.

It will be about balancing the pace of growth and the impact on the environment and the ecology of Alberta. It will be about balancing the needs of high growth and slow growth communities as well as big cities and other communities. It will be balancing competing labour needs and shortage between various sectors of the economy and how to meet the social infrastructure deficits that uncontrolled and rampant energy sector growth has caused.

It will be about the need for short term and long term balance. It will be about balancing continental energy supply demands with the limited capacity of the province to respond in an even faster pace than now. It will be about inter generational fairness and how to preserve these once in a life time non-renewable resource revenues in the current and future context.

For Premier Stelmach, next week will just be another day at the beach – but he will be able with the tsunami on the horizon. He just won't know for a while how big it is or how fast it is moving..but hi will know it is coming.

Wish him well and pray that he, along with all the rest of us rank and file Albertans, will have the courage and conviction to do the right thing - and not to blink. There will be lots of heat coming out of the government royalty review decision next week. Let’s hope there is some enlightenment too.