CALGARY - Alberta's Liberal Opposition is changing its energy policy and offering some frank talk about past mistakes.

The Liberals now say the oil and gas industry should be viewed as a positive force in the province and royalties need to be competitive. Energy critic Dave Taylor says the Liberals needed to take a hard look at their existing energy policy.

"The old way wasn't working," he said Monday in an interview. "It wasn't winning us any friends in the oil and gas industry.

"You can't get away from the fact that they're responsible for just about half of the economic activity, and directly or indirectly just about half the jobs in the province."

Taylor said a key mistake the Liberals made was failing to criticizing changes to energy royalties that were introduced by the governing Tories in 2007.

The changes that took affect a year ago were widely denounced by the industry and resulted in reduced investment and major job losses.

"I think if we had it to do all over again, we should have come out much stronger (and go) after the whole royalty review process, because it was a flawed process right from the get-go," said Taylor.

Premier Ed Stelmach's government is expected to backtrack on some of its changes to royalties once it releases a "competitiveness review" in a few weeks.

But the Liberals are trying to beat the Tories to the punch by writing an open letter to the oilpatch outlining how the Opposition's stand on energy has changed.

The party's new policy also states that the oil and gas industry is the backbone of Alberta's economy.

"The policy must balance the recognition of the importance of a healthy energy industry with that of taking responsibility for climate and the environment."

But the policy also says that climate change is a reality and poses a significant challenge, so the Liberals plan to act in good faith to reduce Alberta's carbon footprint.

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