Appearing on 630 CHED Mornings with Chelsea Bird and Shaye Ganam on Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney defended the Canadian Energy Centre, saying it’s still early in the project and Albertans can expect to see more from the new endeavor after they get fully staffed and set up.
“You’re going to see them running major, I think, very persuasive advertising campaigns,” he said.
“For example, to promote to the Trans Mountain expansion with British Columbians, to promote the potential of liquefied natural gas, to increase energy literacy all across Canada, to advertise in a targeted way towards financial markets in Europe that are under pressure against the oilsands, for example.
“All the kind of advocacy that we’ve always intended and that the Alberta government has done intermittently in the past.”
LISTEN BELOW: Premier Jason Kenney appears on 630 CHED Mornings with Chelsea Bird and Shaye Ganam
There has been opposition to the war room of late, especially from the Opposition NDP. In January, the NDP called the war room a “parade of errors” and called for it to be shut down.
In February, further calls came for it to be shut down after the head of the CEC posted a lengthy social media response to an article in the New York Times that questioned the news organization’s credibility.
“In hindsight, was this a mistake?” Ganam asked Kenney on air. “I mean, every spent dollar that you spend gets compared to the $30-million budget that goes to the war room. It’s been gaffe, after gaffe, after gaffe. Do you have regrets on the war room?”
“Talk to me a year from now about the efficacy of the Canadian Energy Centre,” Kenney replied.
“At this point, I’m not going to downgrade their record based on a misguided tweet.”
After the premier’s appearance on 630 CHED, the NDP issued a press release once again calling for the war room to be defunded.
“If the UCP is looking to find savings, the solution is hiding in plain sight,” NDP energy critic Irfan Sabir said. “Since its inception, the Canadian Energy Centre has had a number of missteps that have hurt its credibility and cast doubt on its ability to deliver on its mandate.”
The NDP has long said the government is making unfair cuts to services, education, post-secondary institutions and health care, and has been critical of the war room’s $30-million annual budget.
“I can’t see any value the UCP’s war room has provided to Albertans,” Sabir said. “That money would be better spent protecting services, making sure AISH and income support clients get their cheques on time, or reversing the cuts this government has imposed on Albertans and their families.”
READ MORE: An inside look at Alberta’s ‘war room’
While appearing on 630 CHED, Kenney defended his government’s budget, saying it actually maintains or increases spending over the NDP’s final budget for things like education and health care.
“We’re maintaining health, education funding, which is what we promised to do,” Kenney said.
“In the case of health care, it’s over $20 billion a year that we’re maintaining, including for physician compensation. They’re continuing to get $5.4 billion a year, the highest in Canada. ”
Though Kenney does agree that there will be a per-capita spending reduction, he maintains that it’s still the highest in Canada, saying Alberta spends about 20 per cent more than other provinces.
“All we’re doing, and that’s what we were elected to do, is to challenge our great people in our public services to learn to operate at least as efficiently as British Columbia or Ontario, Saskatchewan or Quebec. I think we can do that in Alberta.”
Shaye and Bird also touched on job numbers and investment in the province. Kenney promised an announcement will be coming Friday to outline the government’s $6.9-billion capital plan to invest in infrastructure and create jobs.