Thursday, July 13, 2006

Picking fights - I

No doubt much will be written over the next few days about Premier Williams' release and newser reigniting the war with ExxonMobil among other things - there was an awful number of issues tossed out in the release, scrum and associated news interviews.

For the sake of clarity I'll just deal with a few of Williams' charges.

1) "Max Ruelokke is an untrustworthy oil industry shill." (my paraphrase)

I won't belabor this one. Today's Telegram nailed this charge to the wall (reproduced at Bond Papers) further reinforced by the Bond Paper's own commentary so enough said on that.

In any case Judge Halley will have the last word unless the province decides to push the matter to the wall in appeal.

2) "When Alberta wants more royalties, it's ok. But when NL does, it's a grab". (or words to that effect)

I follow this issue pretty closely and I never heard that Alberta was looking for further royalties. In fact, Alberta has long had the reputation of providing an open and stable royalty regime. They day they announce they want to abandon the regime that has put their province's economy on the map, it will be very big news.

In doing some quick research the only references I found to anything like what the Premier claimed was this (Alta Tory leadership hopefuls question whether energy royalty review was done) and this (Alberta NDP are questioning a review of the province's royalty tax regime).

Both of these stories were in response to this where the provincial energy minister, Greg Melchin, stated that an internal review of Alberta's royalty tax regime concluded the province is getting "a fair share" from oilsands and conventional oil.

In other words, the province of Alberta is not looking for higher royalties; the government is satisfied with what it's receiving.

However the premier, in making the argument that we are hard done by in this province while Alberta gets a pass, decided to cite self-serving remarks from political leadership candidates and off-the-cuff statements from an irrelevant leftist political party. Neither of these are credible authorities for what the Alberta government is seeking or, in this case, not seeking.

Suppose Premier Klein characterized remarks from Gerry Reid and Lorraine Michael as "the province of Newfoundland and Labrador wants" this or that? I know I'd chuckle.

There are very good arguments to be made for the difference in the way Alberta and NL are perceived as the two provinces persue industrial economic development.

This is not one of them; do better.

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