Alberta Premier Alison Redford and the province’s biggest political adversary in Ottawa are snubbing each other during Stampede, a 10-day celebration packed with casual working meetings and serious campaigning.
Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair will be here Thursday and Friday, and while he recently made a stop in Alberta to see the oil sands, he has yet to meet with the Progressive Conservative premier. Ms. Redford is a red Tory, but she’s also a staunch defender of the province’s energy sector and its environmental regulations, putting her at odds with Mr. Mulcair. He believes the oil sands are hurting the rest of Canada’s economy by the so-called Dutch Disease and that they are an environmental embarrassment.
“No one has asked me to meet with him,” Ms. Redford told reporters at the Stampede breakfast she hosted Monday. “And I’m quite busy Stampeding and speaking to Albertans about what matters to them ... and talking about how to continue to grow our energy economy, and that’s what I’m going to do through Stampede.”
Ms. Redford’s office did not request a meeting with Mr. Mulcair, either.
“I don’t think that his tone is going to change in terms of his comments with respect to the energy economy. Our perspective is very different,” she said before two-stepping in front of hundreds of people lined up for pancakes. “We believe an energy economy matters for Canada, and that it is important for a national leader to take leadership and talk about why that’s important.
“And I don’t expect from everything I’ve heard that his comments will change very much and you certainly don’t need to expect that mine will,” she said.
George Soule, a spokesman from Mr. Mulcair’s office, confirmed that the Official Opposition leader did not request a meeting. He met with Alberta’s deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk during his recent visit to the oil sands, Mr. Soule said, but added that the NDP leader would like to meet with Ms. Redford at some point.
“This trip is to go to the Stampede,” Mr. Soule said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Redford and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a meeting, but eschewed the tradition of holding a federal-provincial joint caucus meeting during Stampede. The relationship between the two caucuses has been perceived as lukewarm. Ms. Redford won the Alberta election in April over the more right-leaning Wildrose Party, which had deep support from the federal Conservatives.
The two leaders compared notes on who they met in their separate trips to China, as well as catching up on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline to the United States and Northern Gateway line to a port in British Columbia, Ms. Redford said.
“[We] talk[ed] about the tremendous opportunity for investment and what we’re seeing in terms of an international community, particularly in China, that’s still very interested in investing in Alberta and Canada.”
She already has had several formal one-on-one meetings with Mr. Harper and remains in frequent contact with him.
“They talk on the phone on a regular basis maybe every six weeks or so,” said Kim Misik, a spokeswoman with the Premier’s office.
Mr. Harper spent his last day in Calgary on Monday serving up pancakes at a breakfast caravan in a shopping mall parking lot, where miniature ponies, a life-sized stuffed bull and a live band were also featured.
During his five-day visit to his home riding, Mr. Harper also took in the Stampede parade and hosted a barbecue for Tory party supporters, which for the first time, was attended by an Alberta premier.
Carl Vallée, a PMO spokesman who was travelling with Mr. Harper during his Stampede stopover, wouldn’t talk about what was discussed during the Prime Minister’s meeting with Ms. Redford.
“He meets with premiers across the country when he travels out East, out West, everywhere,” Mr. Vallée said. “And he does do that, but we don’t comment on the content of the meeting.”
Interim federal Liberal leader Bob Rae, who was also in town with members of his caucus for Stampede events, will spend Tuesday in Fort McMurray touring the Athabasca oil sands and checking out Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s mining and reclamation work. He is also scheduled to meet with the executive director of the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association and look at an air monitoring station. On Wednesday, he plans to meet with local aboriginal leaders including members of the Fort McKay First Nation and the Métis community.
Every federal seat in Alberta is held by the Tories, save for one NDP seat in Edmonton. The seat in Calgary Centre, the city’s most progressive riding, is open after MP Lee Richardson resigned to serve as Ms. Redford’s principal secretary. Ms. Redford secured her leadership and the party’s majority by attracting voters from the middle and left. Her win, coupled with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s victory, has given Liberals hope they can scoop up Calgary Centre.
Ms. Redford did not wave the Tory flag when asked about the pending by-election, which the federal government has yet to call.
“What we’re seeing is Albertans voting for candidates that they think represent who they are, what they do, and what they would like to see in the future,” she said. “I think it will depend very much on who the candidates are and whether or not Calgarians and Albertans can connect with them.”