A cross-country energy strategy should be hammered out soon with Alberta having a leading voice in that dialogue, the province's premier, Alison Redford, told a crowd of business leaders on Wednesday.
In her speech at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, Redford called on all provinces to share a collective responsibility to create a national policy on exports of oil, gas and other forms of energy.
"We must recognize the diversity of energy production across Canada. We are a mosaic of peoples, regions and interests, and we have always celebrated this diversity," she said. "Energy now becomes part of that discussion."
'We've never at any point in time thought that we weren't going to export to Asia.' —Alberta Premier Alison Redford
Redford's comments come as Canada looks beyond the U.S. to potentially tap other markets hungry for energy, particularly China and India.
She said having the West reach across to other provinces and come together on a united front on energy would be the best thing for Canada's integrated economy that would spur economic development.
Redford proposed creating a cross-country dialogue drawing input from every province on innovation and environmental sustainability policies. Having Alberta play a prominent role in crafting an energy strategy would also be key, she added.
"From an Alberta perspective, we're in a position where we can take a role in leading that conversation," she said.
"It may be that Canadians don't have the perspective that we've done that in the past, but it's very much what I would like to do now, and we will do it in the future."
The premier also referenced the Keystone XL pipeline impasse in the U.S. and said the delays with the project south of the border underscore a need to look elsewhere to broaden business.
Asked by a reporter whether she was ready to set an ultimatum for Canada's primary trading partner, Redford said the idea of shipping oil to Asia was never ruled out.
"Our reality in Alberta is that we have a resource that we're going to export. We believe that we can export to the U.S. and that it would be good for us and good for the U.S.," she said.
"We've never at any point in time thought that we weren't going to export to Asia," she added.
No shift in policy from U.S.
A shift in policy away from exporting to the U.S. is not in the cards, though she said Alberta "will always be looking to grow our markets."
Earlier Wednesday, Enbridge Inc. said it would pay $1.15 billion US for a half-stake in an existing pipeline from the Gulf Coast and reverse its flow to relieve a build-up of oil storage in Cushing, Okla.
Enbridge rival TransCanada Corp., meanwhile, said it may be possible to build the southern leg of its Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline as early as next year in a move also designed to drain supplies from Cushing. Redford said both of those developments were encouraging.
She also met with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier Wednesday as part of a whirlwind tour that also stopped in Washington and New York.
She said they talked about the Keystone pipeline a little, but only in terms of Canada's energy strategy to build international markets. She said they "didn't disagree on anything" and instead talked about how Alberta could help Ontario develop its interest in renewable power.