Skip to main content

Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 7, 2012.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver likes Alberta's proposal for a national energy strategy, though he is making an effort not to call it that.

Premier Alison Redford, who has championed the notion since winning her job last fall, met with Mr. Oliver in Edmonton Friday morning. They talked "infrastructure in B.C." – presumably, the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline – and about her notion of a Canadian energy strategy. He emerged to say much of the work is already under way.

"We of course are entirely supportive of the collaborative approach to energy development, involving the federal government and all the provinces," Mr. Oliver told reporters. "We've avoided the nomenclature because it has a certain sensitivity in some areas."

No area would be more sensitive than Alberta, where Pierre Trudeau's failed National Energy Program still, decades later, raises the ire of voters in the province.

Ms. Redford has massaged the language in hope, largely, of leveraging a pipeline beyond her province's borders.

As Mr. Oliver stood answering questions about resource development in Ontario's so-called Ring of Fire, Quebec's Plan Nord and Alberta's oil sands, Ms. Redford said they're precisely the types of major projects an energy strategy would pull together.

"A lot of what we've talked about is part of what a Canadian energy strategy involves," Ms. Redford said.

The groundwork for such a strategy – either a de facto, piecemeal effort as suggested by Mr. Oliver, or a formalized one as Ms. Redford hopes – was partially laid during last summer's meeting of provincial, territorial and federal environment ministers, Mr. Oliver said. It was a meeting held in Alberta, no less.

"We delineated five action plans. One of them was regulatory reform, and we've introduced that legislation, and we're moving forward on it, and I've talked to the premier about some very specific things we can work (on) together," he said, referring to Ottawa's plan to do away with much of the time-consuming environmental approval process for energy projects. "I would say we're moving together on this, and we're quite hopeful other provinces and territories will be in agreement."