Just ahead of the release of a report that could spur changes to Alberta’s contentious royalty framework, the province’s new energy minister says he knows he’s going to have to work to woo back support from Calgary’s oilpatch elite.
Ron Liepert admitted Thursday that relations are strained between the Tories and the oilpatch.
“There has been a loss of trust, I certainly have made no bones about it,” he said.
“I’m not going to deny that there isn’t lashing out going on out there.”
Premier Ed Stelmach shuffled his cabinet Wednesday in the face of his party’s sagging popularity in the polls, especially in Calgary. Liepert was shifted into energy from health, where he had a controversial run over cutting mental-health beds and other services.
The premier reached out Thursday to the energy industry, saying he expects Liepert to set up an office in Calgary, as well as wine and dine oilpatch CEOs at the exclusive Petroleum and Ranchmen’s clubs.
“This is an industry that will help carry Alberta out of the recession,” he said.
Liepert promised to immediately get to work, evaluating the province’s competitiveness review, expected to be handed over to cabinet in a few weeks.