Alberta Premier Rachel Notley visited Slave Lake last week as part of a swing through the northwestern part of the province. Along with several members of her cabinet, Notley attended a meeting of the Northern Alberta Elected Leaders (NAEL) group.
Notley also attended a party fundraiser the evening before, at Dog Island Brewing. Joining her were Lesser Slave MLA Danielle Larivee, cabinet colleagues and supporters from the area. Also making a point of showing up were several protesters, who wore yellow reflective vests and waved signs at passers-by in the darkness on Caribou Trail.
Notley’s speech to the elected leaders on Thursday morning was familiar stuff. She praisd the north. She took a few shots at the federal government for not appreciating the value of Alberta’s energy economy. She outlined her government’s actions to alleviate the ‘ridiculous’ oil price discount. She went on to mention her government’s philosophy of targeted spending to make lives better. A local example of that, she said, is the $25-per-day daycare now available in Slave Lake.
Getting back to the discounted price Alberta gets for its oil, Notley said it is “fiscal and economic insanity.” Cutting production, though tough to do, will help a bit, Notley said. More rail cars will also help. The push for pipelines will continue, she vowed, and more upgrading and refining are the final piece in the strategy.
As for new pipeline approvals, “the ball is in Ottawa’s court,” she said.
Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says it was a good opportunity for the elected leaders to share their concerns with cabinet ministers and make suggestions. These will be compiled by the Northern Alberta Development Council (the conference organizer) and presented to the government.
Other than that, the conference “was a great opportunity to show off our community to a variety of regional leaders,” Warman says.
In a subsequent chat with The Leader, the Premier spoke enthusiastically about Alberta’s craft brewing industry. She said it is struggling to break into other provincial markets, and the government is working to open those doors.