Sunday, February 10, 2008

Enterprise Saskatchewan: Premier Brad Wall’s Petroleum Club speech confirms political meddling in economic development plan; supports Cheney visit

The Saskatchewan Party government has posted online the speech Premier Brad Wall delivered to the oil and gas industry at the Petroleum Club in Calgary on Jan. 21. While the media did report some of its highlights it is interesting to be able to read the speech in its entirety.

If the issue of oil and gas royalties is any indication Wall’s Enterprise Saskatchewan economic development plan could end up riddled with political meddling.

In his speech to a standing room only crowd Wall said (emphasis added):
The new government in the province of Saskatchewan will not be increasing royalties in the province of Saskatchewan.

We have said that we want a review, and I wish there was another word, but that’s the best one.

We want to review both the royalty and the regulatory structures we have in place, not just by the way in oil and gas, but in regard to potash and other resources that we’re looking at.

We want Enterprise Saskatchewan’s sector team, which will involve industry by the way, to do this review for the purposes of trying to be more competitive.

We need to move in that other direction and here’s why: we have all this undeveloped potential. We’re behind a little bit, frankly, in developing the hydrocarbon assets of the province of Saskatchewan and some of the other resource opportunities that exist.

So, we’ve got to have a sharper pencil. We’ve got to make sure we are turning around permits. We’ve got to make sure that our regulatory structure is as conducive to non-conventional assets like shale gas and shale oil as it might be to more conventional assets. That will be our focus.

That will be the direction that we give to Enterprise Saskatchewan.”
Wall used the word ‘we’ fourteen times – meaning that it will be his ‘new government’ and not Enterprise Saskatchewan and its board or sector teams that will call the shots and largely pre-determine the outcome.

Wall’s speech should, but likely won’t, put an end to Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart’s assertions that Enterprise Saskatchewan will be free from politics.

In Selection process has begun for 10 board seats (Leader-Post, Feb. 7, 2008) Stewart “maintained that politics are not involved.”

However, in Gov’t opens nominations for Enterprise Saskatchewan (StarPhoenix, Jan. 5, 2008) Stewart said that he and another minister, along with some deputy ministers, will be part of the committee that selects the final board members. Aside from Stewart the government has not revealed who the other committee members will be.

Premier Wall has also back peddled on a pledge he made in his Sept. 2004 economic paper The Promise of Saskatchewan: A New Vision for Saskatchewan’s Economy. On page eleven, Wall said that the Enterprise Saskatchewan chairperson will be “coming from the non-government members of the board.” As it stands now Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart will be the chairperson and one other minister will sit on the board.

In May 2004, StarPhoenix columnist Gerry Klein reported on a speech given by Wall to the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) that included Enterprise Saskatchewan. According to Klein, Wall said such an organization “must be so far from the political fray in the province that it could withstand the electoral process.” [Sask. Party to lay out economic plan (StarPhoenix, May 6, 2004)]

It would seem that this was wishful thinking on Wall’s part because Enterprise Saskatchewan hasn’t even been implemented yet and it’s been front and center since the Nov. 2007 provincial election.

Two months ago in the article Enterprise Saskatchewan starts assembling board (StarPhoenix, Dec 14, 2007) Wall said, “Enterprise Saskatchewan is going to give this province the chance once and for all to get the NDP politics out of economic development.”

Solidly entrenched in its place, though, will be Saskatchewan Party politics. Wall forgot to mention that.

In Enterprise Sask. bill before house (StarPhoenix, Dec 18, 2007) Stewart said 15 of the largest sectors of the economy -- including mining, oil and gas, forestry and agriculture -- will each have a committee of experts that will provide information and recommendations to the Enterprise Saskatchewan board.”

As Wall and Stewart describe it the sector team looking at oil and gas royalties will include industry. Presumably this means the oil and gas industry. It should be noted that the following organizations were sent Enterprise Saskatchewan board nominee packages: Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC), Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Petroleum Technology Research Centre, and Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC).

As an aside, records filed with Elections Saskatchewan show that between 2003 and 2006, CAPP contributed $10,445.12 to the Saskatchewan Party. (During the same time period the organization donated $4,421.00 to the NDP).

CAPP represents 150 member companies who explore for, develop and produce more than 95 per cent of Canada’s natural gas, crude oil, oil sands and elemental sulphur.

Among its stated goals are to “continuously enhance the economic well-being…of Canada’s oil and natural gas industry” and “to eliminate unnecessary overlap and extra costs” and strive for “regulatory improvements.” In other words, these folks will likely get along well with Wall & Co.

On Feb. 6, 2008, the government threw a new wrinkle into Enterprise Saskatchewan by announcing the establishment of something called the “Strategic Issues Councils.” Just exactly what they are the news release doesn’t say.

The attached backgrounder states that the Councils, along with the Sector Teams, were “outlined in the Enterprise Saskatchewan legislation.” The proposed Bill that was tabled on Dec. 17, 2007, however, does not seem to mention them. While ‘Section 4 – Purposes of agency’ does say that sector teams will be established there is nothing in the legislation that refers specifically to “Strategic Issues Councils.”

Finally, on the topic of energy security Wall told his Calgary audience that, “It’s also the intention of the new government of Saskatchewan to support efforts like your premier’s recent trip to Washington where he met with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and a number of other American officials to again make the case.”

This would be the same Dick Cheney that has had Articles of Impeachment filed against him by Congressman Dennis Kucinich for high crimes and misdemeanors for deceiving the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq.

Cheney, along with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others, helped orchestrate the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which were illegal under international law and have resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian and military casualties. This was perhaps due not so much to satisfy America’s insatiable quest for energy security, but for control of Middle Eastern oil so as to provide, as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter says, “politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region.”

Yes, this is definitely the type of monster Saskatchewan wants its premier to rub shoulders with.


At 5:58 AM, Blogger KariOguz said...

I'm actually emailing on behalf of my friend, Neil, who would very much like to leave comments on your site and commence an interaction with you, but because of his lack of Gmail account, he is unable to do so. He lives in Saskatoon. Please contact him:


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