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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Premier Stelmach Goes to Washington.

Premier Stelmach is off the Washington DC today with his Ministers of Agriculture and Food and Sustainable Resource Development. This is an important meeting and even with the Washington heavy hitters on the Primary Hustings he has still arranged an impressive set of meetings. Gary Mar as the Alberta’s Envoy in Washington is already earning his keep.

One focus is on the food safety and that is important given the new BSE case just discovered. The other even more critical elements are investing in Alberta and continental energy supply and security.

The Americans are woefully ignorant of the Alberta oil sands and its potential for resolving their fossil fuel energy demands without going to war or being beholden to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. We have the oil sands recognized as the second largest reserves in the world behind Saudi Arabia and that is with current technology that only allows for us to utilize 10% of the potential.

The emerging American awareness over the oil sands is that it is environmentally speaking “dirty oil.” That is a concern in perception and there is some truth as well because of the GHG emissions inherent in the current mining techniques. The Americans, like most Canadians, have no clue as to what is being done to address those ecology issues in the province and industry.

Are the issues resolved? Not by a long shot! Are they being attended to? Yes but a greater and more energized focus has to be brought to bear on the concerns – by all concerned.

Premier Stelmach is seeing the right people in Washington on the energy and investment concerns for sure. He is meeting on Wednesday with the likes of the U.S. Energy Association, and participating in the U.S. Senate energy forum entitled “Alberta: Leading the Way on North American Energy Security.” He will participate in a briefing at the U. S. House of Representatives on “Trade and Investment Opportunities Between the U.S. and Alberta.”

On Thursday he speaks to food safety with the Canadian American Business Council then on to meeting with the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Acting Secretary of Agriculture. He also attends a business forum on expanded U.S. - Alberta – Canada relations and expanded trade opportunities. He has individual meetings with House of Representatives people like the Chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, another with a ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Finally, after an extensive and impressive two days of meetings Stelmach has a bit of fun at the hockey game watching the Edmonton Oilers defeat the Washington Capitals.