Alberta Premier Rachel Notley answered a ton of questions Wednesday afternoon, on everything from working with the U.S. following Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, to the recent resignations of two women in the PC leadership race.
She began by congratulating Trump, noting the United States is Alberta’s most significant energy market and they’ll be working to see if new opportunities will come as a result of the new president, who has called for the Keystone XL project to be approved with new conditions.
But she also stressed the need to diversify Alberta’s economy since the U.S. is also a competitor.
“The U.S. has become less of a market than it has been a competitor and so we remain at least as focused on the issue of diversifying our market and diversifying our access to different markets, i.e. getting a Canadian pipeline to tidewater,” she said.
With a renewed opportunity for the TransCanada project, Notley said she’s not worried about the federal government moving its focus from another possible new pipeline to Keystone XL.
“The federal government has yet to make a decision on any of the national pipelines that are proposed in Canada,” she said. “Simply looking at market access as being a one-pipeline Keystone-type event where we lose agency over the decision-making on it is probably not necessarily a good long-term strategy for our economic development.”
Balancing the issue of Keystone XL and the environment could be difficult for Notley, as it’s been slammed by many left-wing voters and environmentalists, while Trump himself at one time referred to climate change as a hoax.
However, Notley said the NDP Climate Change Plan goes forward regardless of what happens in the U.S. or who holds the presidency.
“My government, the national government, are accountable to the citizens of the jurisdiction which elected them, which is ours, not the one down south,” she said, adding the likelihood of the U.S. moving on climate change was not something she ever factored into her plan.
“Our Climate Change Leadership Plan was designed and modeled on the basis of Alberta acting alone and with amendments and considerations built into the plan for a more trade-exposed industry, so I think that that remains the case now,” she said.
Notley was also asked repeated questions about possible sexism in the U.S. election, following her opening statement in which she said Hillary Clinton’s candidacy inspired women in girls all around the world, while also saying more work needs to be done.
“I can’t really speculate terribly about what happened in the U.S., I think there were a number of different factors in play there,” she said.
She said it’s a disappointment for the many men and women who were hoping for the first woman president, but wouldn’t say how much gender played a role.
“I’m not going to suggest that it didn’t happen because she’s a woman, I’m just saying that we saw that it didn’t happen and we hoped it would,” she said. “I think it’s a bit premature to analyze exactly what happened and why the election turned out the way it did.”