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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

kevin taft on the royalty review.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft explains the bottom line on oil and gas royalties: they must rise at least 20%.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great speech. Taft is a leader. Stelmach is looking weak.

Troy Wason said...

I'm not sure a reasoned or measured response can be made during an issue of this dimension by assessing only the words of one political leader. I would suggest that we allow the Premier of Alberta to present his arguments first before resorting to name calling. This is not an argument of us against them, but surely has long-term ramifications far beyond the partisanship that will surely flow from this debate. It would be great if could all see a little further than our own little worlds and conduct ourselves accordingly—with a little dignity and respect for all Albertans.

christine said...

I would agree that in a normal arena this should be a non-partisan issue, but the issue is clear: Royalties over the past 15 years have not been properly collected due to negligence and gross incompetence within the Ministry of Energy. Billions of dollars failed to be collected because the Ministers of the day - Greg Melchin and Mel Knight - didn't oversee their departments properly. Both of these men are still in Stelmach's cabinet. Both have not been fired for their incompetence as Ministers. How can Albertans 'trust' Ed Stelmach to make the right decisions on royalties when he can't even run his own cabinet with integrity and accountability. I like what Taft has said. It's honest and takes a stand on royalties, a big difference in comparison to what Stelmach as been doing.

Ed Stelmach is not a leader. And it is time for a change.

Anonymous said...

Libs are in a corner now. Vote for us - send the economy into a tailspin!!

Anonymous said...

Good on Taft for taking the right position on the issue. The oil companies have been pushing hard on our leaders to back down on royalties, regardless of the fact that the vast large majority of Albertans want their fair share of resource revenues. Taft has taken a strong position and has earned my respect for it.

michael in calgary said...

Stelmach speaks to his biggest failing

Don Braid
Calgary Herald

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If Premier Ed Stelmach has normal human nerves, he will watch himself with sweaty palms as his first televised speech is broadcast to the province tonight. The government's future could ride on what people think of him.

The speech was pre-recorded in chunks; a good idea, considering the premier's severe challenges as a public speaker. When some of the recording was done, I'm told, he was quite ill with the flu.

Many Tory party members feel rather sick themselves when they hear Stelmach speak in person. They know he's smart and sincere, but when he comes to their towns, they're often stunned by how inept he is on a public platform.

Audiences react to Stelmach the way parents do when their school kid is giving a speech --they lean forward, lips moving, willing him to do well.

Stelmach doesn't provoke anger or annoyance, just a kind of puzzled pity. This guy is really the premier? Routinely, the local dignitaries who introduce him are better speakers.

The whole province could feel that way tonight, unless somebody handcuffed Stelmach to his script until it was safely recorded. The new federal crime bill should prohibit Ed Stelmach from ad libbing.

Yet this premier has brought the royalty issue to a defining point where the entire focus is on him.

He started the royalty review; he made the process highly public, rambling, and ultimately divisive; and now he has to repair the damage. A man who seems to have no trace of the natural gambler has created a situation where the skill he needs most is the very one he lacks.

Because of all these fears, Stelmach's party is divided and uncertain, with some members already pining nostalgically for Ralph Klein's relaxed style of muddling through.

They've watched in horror as the energy industry staged a blubbering public meltdown, predicting a dire future for Alberta if Stelmach adopts all the recommendations from the review commission he appointed.

Tories whisper that all this could have been handled with quiet consultation and then a simple policy announcement on a Friday afternoon.

Stelmach felt the public deserved a far bigger stake in this debate. He's right about that. We can't fault his goals or idealism; but there was a better way to go about it.

On Ken Chapman's excellent Edmonton-based blog, a former minister in Peter Lougheed's government expresses his frustration with Stelmach's methods.

"If the premier felt time was needed why the hell not have a Committee of the Whole public hearing in the legislature -- exactly what was done in December 1972. . . ."

"Then Big Oil could have its say, but to the public at the same time as the government, not behind closed doors. Others had their say too. . . ."

My old pal Chapman, a longtime Tory and consultant, didn't name the ex-minister who sent him the e-mail, either in the blog or when I caught him on the phone.

I have my suspicions, but it hardly matters. The excellent point is that the royalty review could have been done publicly through regular legislature processes, with more legitimacy and less conflict.

Stelmach can make all this right starting tonight, if he looks strong and coherent while presenting sane solutions. He might just pull it off. The premier is no Cicero, but he's not a fool either.

Yet the essential mystery remains: Why did this peculiar leader create a political storm he can only tame by stepping out with a lightning rod in his hand?

dbraid@shaw.ca

Robert McLeod said...

The province doesn't really have a choice in this matter. The bulk of the current royalty revenue comes from natural gas (60 %), and activity in the natural gas market has been declining for a few years.

Check the rig drilling numbers:

http://www.eub.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_259_235_0_43/http%3B/extContent/publishedcontent/publish/eub_home/industry_zone/alberta_s_energy_resources_and_statistics/drilling_and_wells/st59.aspx

The province has burned through the easy and cheap natural gas, now they are going for the coal-bed methane and stranded pockets, but they aren't going to be able to maintain the existing flow rates.

That implies that revenues from natural gas under the existing royalty structure will decline substantially, so unless the load is switched onto bitumen producers the provincial government will find itself in a deficit situation.

Robert McLeod said...

Let's try that link again:

link to drilling stats

Anonymous said...

But rather than making oil sands projects uneconomic, they could encourage the technology development to maximize coal bed methane drilling.

Anonymous said...

Just a question I hope one of you can answer. Why only 20%? The panel recommended 26% by 2010 (page 17). The 20% was a recommendation if things had changed for 2006, that is a year ago. What the panel was shooting for was 26%. Just wondering if anybody can explain better than the video.

Anonymous said...

It must be nearly election time! Kevin Taft has started to sound like NDP leader Brian Mason again, and that's a sure sign of an impending vote.

Why don't the Alberta Liberals have any ideas of their own? Why do they even exist? It's such a waste; all the vote splitting that goes on when 2 parties share 1 platform. It's too bad that only the NDP would actually implement these ideas whereas the Liberals would only suck on Big Oil's cash pipeline.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the vote splitting is a waste.

That's why the NDP should just dissapear.

Werner Patels said...

anon: I have a better idea. Let's make the Liberals disappear and keep the NDP. How's that?

Anonymous said...

ND who?

karl wussel said...

I think he's talking about the party that got 1% and 3% of the vote in the summer by-elections.

Didn't the latest poll have the Greens ahead of the ND's?

Anonymous said...

Brian Mason hasn't figured out that Albertan's stopped taking the New Democrats seriously a LONG LONG TIME AGO.

colin said...

I'm glad to see the Liberals take the position they did on the royalties situation. I suspect, in light of what the Premier hinted at last night, that Taft has positioned the Liberals between the Tories and the NDs, arguably not a bad place to be.