Premier courts Edmonton business audience

EDMONTON – For the first time, Rachel Notley gave a State of the Province speech. It comes in the midst of the economic downturn and questions about future.

The premier spoke to an audience of 2,000 at the Edmonton Expo Centre Thursday afternoon.

“This government has reached into the business community very deeply in recent weeks and months,” said Janet Riopel of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce after the speech.

READ MORE: Notley talks entrepreneurism, diversification in State of the Province address 

The premier touched on several previously talked about issues including defending the recent deficit budget, and the need to work with the business community to diversify the province’s economy.

“There are a lot of different tools we can use to promote diversification,” she added, “and support businesses as they move forward on them.”

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The premier also talked about her support of the Energy East pipeline.

READ MORE: TransCanada nixes export terminal in Quebec for Energy East pipeline 

But questions remain as business leaders await the report from the climate change advisory panel.  There are some questions about whether the two initiatives can work hand-in-hand.

“We can do that in a collaborative way, showing some leadership with industry, while still ensuring they have a business plan that goes forward in a responsible way,” said the premier.

“We very much are supportive of things that will continue to build and job create,” added Riopel. “We need that.”

The premier received a warm welcome for her speech.  It was in contrast to the more muted response from the Calgary chamber last month.

Edmonton business leaders note the city’s economy has remained more robust than elsewhere in the province, but there’s worry the negative impacts will deepen next year.

“Our business community if very fragile right now,” said Riopel.

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