Greg Rickford meets with Alberta energy stakeholders

The new federal natural resources minister Greg Rickford met with Alberta's energy stakeholders to discuss resource development.

New federal natural resources minister took over after Joe Oliver moved to finance portfolio

Greg Rickford, shown here after being sworn in as Natural Resources Minister on March 19, 2014, has a difficult portfolio that will require him to balance industry, environmental groups and First Nations. (Chris Wattie/REUTERS)

The new federal natural resources minister Greg Rickford met with Alberta's energy stakeholders on Friday to discuss resource development. 

According to a press release sent out Saturday, Rickford held a meeting with Alberta's Energy Minister, Diana McQueen. The two discussed their shared commitment to responsible resource development, job creation and economic growth while ensuring environmental protection for Canadians.

"Minister McQueen and I met and agreed that Canada's economic future depends on developing our natural resources responsibly," Rickford said. "A strong Alberta makes for a strong Canada, and vice versa. I look forward to collaborating with Minister McQueen in future as we work towards transforming Canada into a 21st-century resource superpower."

No details were provided regarding Rickford's anticipated priority areas or how the two ministers will work to attain their mutual goals of "world-class environmental protection for Canadians."

Rickford also met this week with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, academic and industry experts and provincial officials before speaking at the International Energy Agency's Unconventional Gas Forum.

Before taking over the natural resources portfolio, Rickford served as the minister of state for science and technology as well as parliamentary secretary for the minister of aboriginal affairs. 

In addition to his new portfolio, Rickford retains his responsibilities for FedNor, the federal economic development program for northern Ontario. 

Crucial moment for the portfolio

Rickford has said he plans use his new role to promote Canadian natural resources in new markets and has been welcomed by the oil and gas community so far.

"The Minister's strong grasp of the key issues, including the critical need for securing market access, was reassuring," said Mike McAllister, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of Encana. "His messaging that industry continues to need to focus its collective efforts on building strong and sustainable Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities was well received."

The portfolio is at a crucial point and Rickford will be involved in steering federal decisions on the Northern Gateway pipeline and will likely take part in discussions over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Increasingly controversial pipeline proposals such as Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain and TransCanada's Energy East pipeline are also beginning to grab headlines.

Another key priority for Rickford will be improving relationships with First Nations over pipeline opposition.

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