Alberta to push on Keystone pipeline, bigger markets
By Scott Haggett and Jeffrey Jones
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta remains a strong supporter of its oil industry after a provincial election that left the Progressive Conservatives in power to focus on new markets for Canadian crude and to try to persuade Washington to let the Keystone XL Pipeline go ahead.
The Conservatives, led by Alison Redford, won 61 of 87 seats in the provincial legislature in Monday's election, capturing 44 percent of the popular vote despite lagging in opinion polls throughout the campaign.
The victory came despite lingering resentment in the powerful oil industry over an attempt four years ago by Redford's predecessor as premier, Ed Stelmach, to raise royalties on oil and gas production.
That pushed many angry oil and gas producers into the arms of the new Wildrose Party, where they offered enough support to turn a right-wing splinter group into the Conservatives' main challenger in the hard-fought election.
It's a lesson the Conservatives are unlikely to forget as they seek to boost oil and gas output and find new markets for rising output from the province's oil sands.
"You don't take on big oil. The Conservatives have learned that," said Peter McCormick, a political science professor at the University of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. "So (Redford) won't. The royalty issue is dead."
The Conservatives, however, actually increased their share of the vote in Calgary, where most of Alberta's energy industry is based, winning 20 of the city's 24 seats in the legislature.
"We expect the focus of the government will be on maintaining a stable, healthy economy, one that continues to attract investment to our province, provides good jobs and improves Alberta's overall quality of life," the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in a statement. Continued...