Senator Doug Black: My Year End Report

senator-doug-blackI am happy to have the opportunity to report to Albertans on my activities on your behalf during the fall of this year.

Thankfully 2016 is ending on a stronger footing than when it started. Since my last newsletter to you in June, we have seen a slow increase in the price of oil and some companies are beginning to re-invest in Alberta’s energy sector.  We have also seen recovery efforts getting underway in Fort McMurray. While I am cautiously optimistic about our prospects, there is still much work to do. We still need international market access for our energy resources and a more resilient and diversified economy.  This is why pipelines and my Alberta 2.0 initiative, which focuses on broadening our economy, have been my priorities this year.

On pipelines – I proposed and actively participated in a comprehensive study by the Senate Transport and Communications Committee on a strategy to build pipelines to our coasts. Our report made seven recommendations, in the areas of the National Energy Board, Indigenous Engagement and funding for the Canadian Coast Guard. Check out our report to get the full details.

I am proud of this work.

I am pleased with the Government’s decisions on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion. I was disappointed with the Gateway decision. The issue of market access to China and India for the very large oil carriers still remains unresolved. With the Federal Government’s moratorium on B.C.’s north coast, Energy East, from Alberta to New Brunswick, is now our best bet for solving this problem. I continue my advocacy on this file having recently given a speech on the need for Energy East in the Senate.

In early 2016 I decided to bring together leading Albertans to develop focused roadmaps on how to diversify Alberta’s economy – to become more resilient and robust. I partnered with the Dean of Business at the University of Alberta, Joe Doucet, and together we set out to build a network of knowledgeable and concerned Albertans. We call our initiative Alberta 2.0. About 60 of us met in Edmonton to develop our working plans. Click here to obtain a copy of Alberta 2.0 – First Steps to a New Alberta.

To advance our work Alberta 2.0 has partnered with Alberta Innovates – the agency of Government charged with ensuring Alberta builds on our strengths through innovation. We have begun work with Alberta Innovates to build Innovation Maps for the industry areas that Alberta 2.0 identified – clean tech, agri-business, and healthcare.

We hope to have implementation plans for these sectors for consideration by the last half of 2017.

I am so grateful to Dean Doucet, all Alberta 2.0 participants, and Alberta Innovates for the work done to date.

Since my last update, I traveled extensively in Alberta sharing my priorities with citizens, media, and speaking to various groups. I have visited Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Olds, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Canmore. In every community I visited community and political leaders to discuss the issues in their communities and how I might be able to help. I was particularly happy to visit Fort McMurray to offer my support to this wonderful community.

I have also been active in the Senate. I have delivered four statements on matters of concern to Albertans and have asked numerous questions of Government Ministers on issues that matter to us.

I participated in the Senate Banking Committee’s studies of the need for interprovincial trade in Canada and a study on the importance of modernizing the Copyright Board. At the Banking Committee we continue to study the interesting prospect of the development of a northern utility and rail corridor for Canada.

I also had the privilege of sponsoring, successfully, in the Senate legislation on trade facilitation ensuring Canada’s obligations to the World Trade Organization, enhancing trade, can be enshrined.

In the New Year I look forward to rejoining the Senate Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Having finished my work on the pipeline study I will no longer be sitting on the Transport and Communications Committee. I will continue to sit on the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee where I am excited to continue the important work focusing on ensuring that trade and commerce in Canada are advanced.

Thank you for all your support during the year. Have a happy and peaceful holiday.