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What oil sands companies are not saying in this election (but should)

April 12, 2019 - 12:00 AM

April 12, 2019

CALGARY - Workers from Alberta’s energy sector are calling on oil sands company executives to speak out about the threat Jason Kenney’s policies represent to the future of the oil sands.

“The CEOS and executives at Alberta’s biggest oil sands companies know the NDP got it right,” said Kim Conway, Chair of Unifor’s Energy Council.

Unifor represents thousands of workers at Suncor, Imperial, Husky and Shell. Conway says companies must share with voters what they’ve been saying to their employees and investors behind closed doors; that the province’s oil sands industry will be far better off with Rachel Notley’s energy policies.

“The big oil sands companies helped craft the Notley government’s Climate Leadership Plan because they understand that the industry must decarbonize to survive in a changing world,” said Conway.

Today energy workers are calling on executives to tell voters that Jason Kenney’s backward-looking policies actually represent a serious threat the future viability of the industry and to the jobs of thousands of Albertans.”

The NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan, unveiled in 2015, has helped Alberta oil sands companies reduce their emissions faster and more economically than the policies of the old PC government. Jason Kenney wants to revive those outdated policies, which would have the effect of rewarding environmental laggards and punishing the top performers.

“Given the fracking boom and oil glut in the United States, everyone understands that the future of our industry depends on getting into new markets in China and India. But both of those countries are introducing tough new carbon pricing systems,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President. “The only way to get into those markets and become a player on the world stage is to reduce emissions. That’s what people like out-going Suncor CEO Steve Williams mean when they say we need to become ‘carbon competitive.’ Jason Kenney’s approach of ignoring what our potential customers really want puts both investment and jobs at risk.”

“Albertans are understandably anxious and angry, so Kenney’s belligerence may seem appealing but it actually decreases the likelihood of TMX getting built. And, it’s shocking that the UCP platform – at least in its original form – didn’t make a single reference to diversification,” said Doherty.

In contrast, the NDP has been rolling out the boldest oil and gas diversification strategy that Alberta has seen since the days of Peter Lougheed. The Notley government’s ‘Made in Alberta’ strategy has already attracted $13 billion in private-sector investment and led to the creation of thousands of jobs.

“Premier Notley has a clear and comprehensive plan for dealing with the rapidly changing global oil and gas landscape,” said Conway, who works at Suncor.

“If you’re thinking about holding your nose and voting for Jason Kenney ‘because of the economy,’ think again,” she said. “In this case, it’s Notley who has the right prescription.”

Unifor, Canada's largest union in the private sector represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative: or (604) 388-4398.