The premier of Canada’s richest province says he wants Ottawa to “pay attention” to its ailing forestry and energy sectors after the federal government handed $4 billion to Ontario’s struggling auto industry.

“Please pay attention to the needs of the West,” said Premier Ed Stelmach about what he plans to tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the First Minister’s meeting in Ottawa Friday.

Stelmach said the current struggles of the oil and gas industry could force companies to cut corporate jobs and the province’s agriculture and forestry sectors “will be under a lot of pressure” because of current “trade barriers” that will put more jobs at risk.

And if there is no “equal help” from Ottawa, Stelmach said Canadian families will not go out and buy new vehicles, something that could help Canada’s auto industry from sinking.

“We have been contributing significantly to equalization … (but) there will be a significant net loss of revenue going to Ottawa from Alberta, and indeed from the West,” said Stelmach during a media scrum with reporters yesterday.

“All of the other provinces that have been looking to Ottawa for help to create some sort of stimulus package have to keep that in mind.”
The premier, however, fell short of suggesting that Alberta’s energy industry should get a bailout, similar to what was given to Canada’s auto industry.

Oil settled higher at $37.78 per barrel yesterday, buoyed by chilly weather in the United States and indications of deep production cuts by Saudi Arabia.

Oil has fallen from a peak price above $147 per barrel reached in July.
The premier will be in Toronto today to deliver a “national unity address” to the C.D. Howe Institute.