OTTAWA, September 17th, 2014 – Honourable Senators, I rise today to congratulate my friend, Jim Prentice, on becoming Alberta’s 16th Premier. I know, and many of you know, that Jim has the energy, the intelligence, and the knowledge of Canada that will make him a great premier of Alberta and a strong national leader.
As the former MP for Calgary Centre-North, Jim has served our government in a variety of ministerial portfolios, as well as serving as chair of the Cabinet Operations Committee. Jim’s leadership comes at a crucial time for Alberta.
There is much to celebrate in Alberta. Alberta is the engine of the Canadian economy. We lead the country on most economic and social indicators, including: growth, earnings, employment, and educational attainment.
However, all is not rosy in ‘paradise’. Alberta is confronting several challenges that if not met may adversely affect both Alberta and Canada’s prosperity. In my view, the three most significant challenges facing Premier Prentice are:
Firstly, rebuilding trust and accountability in government and its leaders. We are all public servants. Our role is to serve our province and our country, to the best of our ability, while never accruing benefits or privileges through the offices we hold. The public’s business must be done in a transparent fashion. This principle must be reaffirmed in Alberta and Premier Prentice will do just that.
Secondly, obtaining market access for Alberta’s energy resources is critical. This cannot be achieved without forging new partnerships based on trust with Aboriginal Canadians, and by demonstrating that Canada’s ability to minimize potential environmental issues leads the world. Premier Prentice understands these two realities.
Finally, we need to address Alberta’s unique labour market challenges. We have a tremendous thirst for labour in our province. The frustration many Alberta businesses have expressed over recent changes to the temporary foreign workers program is a strong example of the challenges faced. Jim Prentice understands the importance of these issues. I look forward to working with him to advocate for solutions on this important issue.
Join me in congratulating Premier Prentice and his family as they step into their challenging role. We are indebted to all our leaders for the contributions and sacrifices they make.