Calgary

NDP win in Alberta 'frightening' for energy sector, business watcher says

The election of an NDP majority government in Alberta puts the province’s energy sector in a very frightening position, says a CBC business commentator.

New government caucus lacks 'bench strength' on oil and gas expertise, Deborah Yedlin says

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley laughs as she enters a campaign rally in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 2, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh (The Canadian Press)

The election of an NDP majority government in Alberta puts the province's energy sector in a very frightening position, says a CBC business commentator.

Deborah Yedlin says voters' stunning decision to hand power to Rachel Notley and a huge new caucus of political novices will create an unprecedented disconnect between the Legislature and corporate Calgary.

"Now the business community, for the first time in 44 years, has no connection to Edmonton. And that is a very frightening prospect," she said.

By 9 a.m. MT the TSX Composite was down 219 points, led by energy stocks prices dipping in the wake of the NDP wave.

Yedlin says new relationships will need to be built and people on both sides will need to reach out in order for Alberta's oil and gas sector — which accounts for 26 per cent of the provincial GDP — is to thrive under the new regime.

The NDP's campaign pledge to initiate review of Alberta's energy royalty regime is especially troublesome, Yedlin says.

"Anything that compromises the return on investment is going to mean that the investment is postponed," she said.

"You saw that with the royalty review in 2007 with Ed Stelmach and it will happen again."

Yedlin says she's also worried about what she calls a lack of bench strength among the new NDP caucus.

"And that's a big concern because you have a very complex sector that needs to have somebody running a portfolio that truly understands the complexity and can speak for Alberta on a national stage, in North America and internationally," she said.

"The NDP doesn't seem to have that ability to put someone forward who has that kind of expertise. It's actually quite frightening."

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