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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Danny Williams' Win Has Major Messages for Stelmach

Premier Danny Williams shows the way to electoral victory and there are lessons for Premier Stelmach in Alberta. Williams campaigned on strength pride and determination…values that will resonate in today’s Alberta too.

He also took on Big Oil for a fair share and negotiated government ownership equity deals for off-shore energy projects. Alberta in the early days was much like Newfoundland and Labrador today. They had government ownership positions in various energy projects in the early days and they morphed into the highly successful Suncor, Syncrude and EnCana entities of today.

The political lessons for Alberta coming out of Williams getting 70% of the popular vote was in no small part from his taking on Big Oil in the service of the greater good of all the citizens of his province. Premier Stelmach can take heart form these results and the pending consequences of some serious political decisions he is about to make on royalties and the role, relationships and the responsibilities between his department of Energy and the energy industry.

Stelmach, when perceived as a ditherer, saw his party’s fortunes dropped quickly to 39% in recent polls. When the “Our Fair Share” Royalty Review Report came out and Premier Stelmach said he would study it and would make a decision on royalties in a month. No more Mr. Dithers and no superficial responses either. Premier Stelmach also said he would not be “intimidated” by Big Oil he jumped to 45% support. Big Oil has been trying to intimidate him ever since the "Our Fair Share" Royalty Review Report was released.

The major political lesson from yesterday's win by Williams shows that siding with the voters/citizens interests over Big Oil is the way to go. Making a carefully considered royalty decision with a long term view of getting a fair share of non-renewable royalties for current and future generations of Albertans will put Stelmach’s support in the Williams’ territory of 70%.

If Stelmach instead decides to call a snap election this fall he will forfeit all this upside potential.