Gary Mar speaks for the first time about Asia trade job

Former Tory leadership candidate Gary Mar spoke to the media Wednesday in his first news conference since being appointed Alberta's representative in Asia two months ago.
Gary Mar discusses his new role as Alberta's representative in Asia at a news conference on Wednesday. (CBC)

The man who came a close second to Premier Alison Redford in the recent Progressive Conservative leadership race discussed for the first time Wednesday what he hopes to accomplish as Alberta's representative in Asia.

Gary Mar says Alberta needs to increase exports to the region and encourage Asian investors to spend money here.

"The value of our exports to the Asia-Pacific region in 2010 was approximately $6.5 billion," Mar told a news conference in Edmonton.

"So my job will be to coordinate the efforts of our international offices. Alberta has 10 international offices throughout the world, six of them are located in the Asia-Pacific region."

Mar will be moving his family to Hong Kong to start his job in January. Mar is also responsible for trade offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei.

"There's great competition. We as Albertans are not the first to recognize the importance of this marketplace," Mar said.

"Other jurisdictions, other countries, other states, are also interested in working in this area, which emphasizes the need for us to have a strong and co-ordinated approach to Asia-Pacific."

Redford appointed Mar to the post two weeks after she won the leadership race on Oct. 2. He will earn $265,000 a year.

Mar was the province's envoy to Washington D.C. before he stepped down earlier this year to enter the leadership contest.

He declined to discuss the race when asked about it during Wednesday's news conference.

"The province of Alberta has a premier and the Progressive Conservative party has selected its leader," Mar said. "I support that leader and I support this premier."