No Stampede meeting for Redford, Mulcair amid oilsands spat

Alberta's premier says she's not holding out hope that the federal NDP leader will change his tune on the oilsands and it doesn't look like the two will meet during Stampede week.

Alberta premier met privately with Prime Minister Stephen Harper before start of Calgary Stampede

Alberta Premier Alison Redford dances the two-step with former Stampede president Dr. David Chalack at a Calgary Stampede breakfast on Monday. Redford met privately with Prime Minister Stephen Harper before the Stampede began but is not expected to meet Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair when he visits Calgary later this week. (Lauren Krugel/Canadian Press)

Alberta's premier says she's not holding out hope that the federal NDP leader will change his tune on the oilsands and it doesn't look like the two will meet during Stampede week.

"We are going to continue over the next three years to hear Mr. Mulcair speak. I don't think that his tone is going to change in terms of his comments with respect to the energy economy," Alison Redford told reporters Monday after she served pancakes, sang, danced and shmoozed with guests at her first Stampede breakfast as premier.

"Our perspective is very different. We believe that an energy economy matters for Canada and that it's important for a national leader to take leadership and to talk about why that's important, and I don't expect, from everything I've heard, that his comments will change very much, and you certainly don't need to expect that mine will."

Mulcair has been critical of Alberta's energy industry. The Opposition leader has said economic strength in Alberta, fuelled mainly by the oilsands, is jacking up the Canadian dollar and hurting manufacturers elsewhere in the country.

He toured Alberta's sprawling oilsands mines near Fort McMurray in the spring and said he was surprised by how "massive" they were.

He's also accused the main industry lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, of pulling a "con job" in promoting the safety of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a method which uses pressure to release natural gas and oil through cracks in underground rock formations.

Mulcair is to visit Calgary later this week, one of many politicians to descend on Cowtown during the Stampede.

Redford said no meeting with Mulcair is on the books.

"Nobody's asked me to meet with him and I'm quite busy Stampeding and speaking to Albertans about what matters to them."

Redford talks pipelines with Harper

Redford met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper just before the Stampede started. They discussed their respective trips to China, she said.

"For us this time it was an opportunity to compare notes on China, which was very good," Redford said.

The two also talked about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Alberta oilsands crude to Texas refineries. It's been delayed by the U.S. government amid environmental concerns, but construction on the southernmost leg of the line is set to begin this summer.

As well, they talked about Northern Gateway, a proposal to ship oilsands crude to the West Coast by pipeline, after which it would be sent to Asia by tanker. It, too, has faced stiff opposition.

Redford has been championing the creation of a Canadian energy strategy, which would include, among other things, a focus on diversifying export markets for Alberta crude.

"I really think one of the things that is strongest for us in our relationship with the federal government is the clear understanding the prime minister and I have about the importance of building the energy economy, not only for Alberta, but for Canada," said Redford.

Elsewhere in Calgary on Monday, Harper served pancakes at a Stampede breakfast attended by about 1,000 people before he headed back to Ottawa.

Carl Valee, Harper's press secretary, said the meeting with Redford was private.

"We don't have any comments to make on it. You know the PM goes across the country and he meets premiers across the country," Valee said. "We don't discuss the contents of the meeting."

At her breakfast, Redford also served pancakes to guests, while deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk poured syrup from a large pitcher.

Later, she joined the crowd in singing "Sweet City Woman," the theme song for Calgary's status as Canada's cultural capital this year.

She also did some country music dancing with Stampede past-president David Chalack while a band played a medley of Shania Twain hits.