By Medicine Hat News Opinon on February 17, 2017.
It’s February and the holiday season bills are coming due. Many Albertans across this province are facing extremely difficult economic realities.
A troubling number of families spent the holidays struggling to make the most of their E.I. cheques. New numbers released by Statistics Canada earlier this week showed that 100,000 people in Alberta were receiving employment insurance benefits as recently as November.
Prices are higher at the pump, prices will be higher on our natural gas bills, and prices are higher at the grocery store with the addition of an economy crushing carbon tax that kicked in Jan. 1.
The oil and gas sector — which is unequivocally the lifeblood of southeastern Alberta’s economy — will be impacted by this carbon tax through newly raised production costs.
The cost of this carbon tax will be paid with fewer full-time jobs being created. It will be paid in the form of lost opportunities with unnerved investors. And it will be paid by passing the cost along to consumers where possible, further harming household budgets.
With the low price per-barrel, Albertans were already guaranteed that our province would be fighting an uphill battle in 2017. What our oil and gas industry didn’t need was a 2016 filled with investor uncertainty, royalty reviews, and bill after bill being rammed through the Legislature mapping out the ever-worrisome mechanics of a new $6 billion carbon tax grab.
During these difficult times, it has become apparent that Alberta’s oil and gas industry has suffered from a lack of advocacy and an ongoing misrepresentation of facts.
Our oil and gas industry will never need a punishing tax to find a reason to pursue and implement the world class techniques that they have long used to reclaim sites, to reduce their water and power usage, and to reduce surface disruptions during active drilling. This tax will not help with the industry’s work to build communities, to provide employment, to provide academic scholarships, or to create any of the other boundless opportunities the oil and gas industry has brought to Albertans.
That is why I am pleased to announce that I was recently given a new portfolio — Shadow Minister of Energy for the Wildrose Official Opposition. I am looking forward to holding the government to account by defending the best interest of Albertans and standing up for our oil and gas industry.
Drew Barnes is the Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA representing the Wildrose Party and Shadow Minister of Energy.
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