A year after calling for the province to end its addiction to oil and gas royalties, the Alberta Liberals are now courting the energy industry with a loving letter.
The missive, signed by Liberal leader Dr. David Swann and party energy critic Dave Taylor, lays out five principles the party will uphold in its dealings with the industry.
But the shift in policy is “too little, too late” to improve the party’s electoral fortunes, says Bruce Foster, a Mount Royal University political professor.
“It seems as if the Liberals didn’t take the lead on this or didn’t distinguish themselves and now they’re playing catch-up,” he says.
The party now recognizes the energy industry as a “positive force” for Alberta’s economy and one that requires “certainty, sustainability, consistency and effectiveness in regulation and policy.”
It marks a 180-degree shift, as Swann last year called for an end to the province’s addiction to oil and gas. And in 2007, when the Tory government made changes to its royalty scheme, then-Liberal-leader Kevin Taft was calling for royalty rates to be raised by “at least 20 per cent.”
The Liberals now say they will “sit down with the energy industry and the financial industry to define a process for setting royalties that are competitive and allow for a return on investment.”
“This is what political parties do,” says Foster, “especially parties that try to capture that somewhat fuzzy middle of the electorate by trying to be as many things to as many people.”