An Update on my Alberta 2.0 Initiative

Posted December 14th, 2016 in blog by Doug Black

Alberta 2.0 has made considerable progress and we would like to update you.


You will all recall that we came together last May for our very productive Alberta 2.0 planning session.


To build a more robust and resilient economy in Alberta, we recommended that Alberta needed to focus on building broadly based “Innovation Maps” in the 3 areas we defined

  1. Energy Clean Tech
  2. Agri-Food
  3. Health Care.


We urged a pan Alberta approval on all these areas, involving business, post- secondary’s and Government.


Today we can report:

  1. There are productive conversations in place with the newly restructured Alberta Innovates – the agency of the government of Alberta charged with ensuring Alberta builds on our strengths through innovations.   Their goals are the same as we set out for Alberta2.0. As a result, we have begun work with Alberta Innovates to build Innovation Maps for the three targeted industry areas.
  2. The identifying of business, government and academic leaders in the 3 areas is underway to head up the development of the Sector Innovation Maps. Each group will comprise of between 20-30 leaders in the respective industries.
  3. The working groups will meeting mid-January to start the process of developing the Innovations Maps – setting out the goals, the tasks and the policies and the players needed to achieve the goals.
  4. The goal is to have plans completed and an implementation plan underway by the last half of 2017.


Alberta2.0 is a large challenge, one that has been defined and now action is underway with our partner – Alberta Innovates.


Thanks for all your continuing support.  Please spread this news – it’s positive for our Province.  We will keep you all updated.


Senate Report on Pipelines

Posted December 7th, 2016 in blog by Doug Black

Today my Senate colleagues and I released our report on a strategy to facilitate pipeline construction to our coastlines. I am proud of the work we did and I encourage people to review our recommendations. Please note that the committee is not advocating a new route for Energy East but we want to encourage the consideration of the Strait of Canso as an alternative end point.


Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that Natural Resources Canada, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, industry and academia, develop and update annually a working document of best practices in building partnerships with Indigenous communities in the natural resources sector.


Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Governor in Council use its authority to make appointments under the National Energy Board Act to appoint permanently an Indigenous peoples’ representative to the National Energy Board. The representative should be chosen in consultation with Indigenous communities.


Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that Natural Resources Canada modernize the National Energy Board (NEB) regulatory process by:

• removing the Governor in Council’s (i.e. Cabinet’s) automatic final approval of pipeline projects, thus empowering the NEB to act in Canada’s national interests on pipeline decisions. These NEB decisions would be subject to appeal to the Governor in Council, similar to some licensing decisions by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission;

• ensuring that Canadians have multiple ways of participating in the NEB process, including, for example, online participation;

• broadening the NEB’s mandate to include greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental matters that are within the scope of pipeline construction;

• broadening the NEB’s mandate to ensure effective communication and consultation with stakeholders; and

• having the federal government conduct its consultation with First Nations at the same time as the NEB’s review of a pipeline project, and feeding the results of that consultation into the NEB process before the Board’s final decision on a project.


Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the National Energy Board, as part of its hearings on the proposed Energy East project, examine the Strait of Canso area as an alternative end point of the pipeline.


Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that Natural Resources Canada focus on improving public knowledge about regulatory processes, the economic importance of the oil and gas sector, and its impact on Indigenous peoples and the environment.


Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends that Fisheries and Oceans Canada ensure that the Oceans Protection Plan includes enhancements to the Canadian Coast Guard, including an expansion of resources and bases of operations for the purposes of oil tanker spill mitigation and prevention.


Recommendation 7: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue its research into the behaviour of various types of oil in water and how aquatic ecosystems can be better reclaimed after an oil spill, as outlined in the Oceans Protection Plan.


You can view the entire report here. 

News Release – Senator Black’s Reaction to Today’s Pipeline Decisions

Posted November 29th, 2016 in blog by Doug Black

Ottawa, November 29, 2016 – Alberta Elected-Senator Doug Black congratulates the Federal Cabinet on today’s pipeline approvals: Enbridge’s Line 3, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion.

“I join Albertans as we celebrate this outcome. These projects are absolutely necessary for the well-being of our Province. However, the issue still remains as to how we get our oil off the continent in the super tankers needed to transport oil to China, India and other markets. Trans Mountain doesn’t address this issue. With Gateway now dismissed, we must continue to work to ensure pipelines are extended to Atlantic Canada or any of our other ocean gateways.”

Senator Black has been critical of the current status of Canada’s oil economy where “discounted prices for Alberta’s energy resources in U.S. markets means significant lost revenues and opportunities for Albertans and Canadians.” The best way to fix this current situation is through the construction of safe pipelines to Canada’s east and west coasts and this has been partially addressed today.

Senator Black is confident this understanding will eventually extend to the Energy East pipeline proposed to the Atlantic. “Albertans know that oil and gas is the backbone of our economy and a transition away from that, while laudable, is decades away from being a reality … I will continue to remind decision makers in Ottawa of this fact while the fate of future projects remains to be decided.”

Since his 2012 Senate Campaign, Senator Black has been a leading supporter of Canadian energy prosperity and the key role pipelines play in that. He’s taken on many leadership roles as a Senator to advance Canada’s energy agenda, including a national speaking tour with the Economic Club of Canada and his recent work on the Senate Transport and Communications Committee’s pipeline study, which is to be released in early December.

Finally, Senator Black wants to acknowledge the work done by Premier Notley and her Alberta Government collogues for their advocacy and leadership which played an important role in today’s decision.

A victory for Donald Trump could be a victory for Alberta

Posted November 10th, 2016 in blog by Doug Black

A victory for Donald Trump could be a victory for Alberta and Canada if we move quickly and strategically. While we have no certainty what President Trump will actually do – if we take him at his word – there are opportunities for our province and country.

The key take away for Alberta, and indeed Canada, is America’s borders will thicken.

It will become much harder for talented people to work in the U.S. and even more challenging for talented non-Americans living in the U.S. to stay. Couple with the fact that the highest growth businesses in the U.S. are in a constant and competitive search for global talent. Therefore, the ability of these firms to grow will be adversely affected.

Canada, on the other hand, is enhancing and encouraging immigration of the very talent the U.S. will be excluding. So, the initiative of attracting business to Alberta, should be accelerated.

We need to target businesses, such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Uber, and dozens of other high growth firms in agri-food, healthcare, and clean-tech who rely on a flow of global talent. We must put out Canada’s welcome mat.

Interestingly, just last week I was talking about this “war for talent” with a senior executive of one of America’s largest companies. He said it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to recruit the top talent they needed– and he asked – “how could Canada help?”

Canada and Alberta can help this senior executive and more importantly ourselves by urging businesses to locate in whole, or in part, here. We have the talent required and the environment for people and businesses to thrive.

On the national level, Canada’s government should be aggressively pursuing trade deals with Pacific Rim nations. If trade pacts are dead in a Trump Administration, let Canada move to secure these deals to become the North American portal for goods and services.

Donald Trump likes to say, “if you’re going to be thinking … you might as well think big.” Let’s think how we can prosper in a big way. New Canadians and businesses are already a national blessing, let’s build on this and aggressively reach out to those who may not make it through a thicker American border.

Remembering Jim Prentice – My Statement in the Senate

Posted October 20th, 2016 in blog by Doug Black

On Wednesday afternoon I had the honour of remembering my good friend Jim Prentice and delivering a statement of remembrance in the Senate. Here is the full text of my statement:

Honourable senators, I rise today to add my voice to the tributes being paid to my dear friend Jim Prentice.

Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, is nestled in the beautiful, remote and rugged southwest corner of our province.  Its location, from cities and commercialization has bred proud, independent and resilient folks: the bedrock of Canada.  People who know who they are and don’t need to tell you.

The core of light in the Crowsnest is family: deep, loyal and honest connections to those you love and those who love you.  Jim Prentice was a son of the Crowsnest.

We know and have heard so much about Jim’s political life.  I hope to share with honourable senators what I have experienced about Jim’s family life and its impact on him.

My family and the Prentice family have been close for 20 years.  Like so many families, we became friends through our kids at school.  We don’t think of Jim; we think of Jim and Karen.  Together, they raised three outstanding daughters and built a meaningful life of contribution to church and community in Calgary.

As we all know in this chamber, nothing in politics can be achieved alone.  Family love, support and advice is essential.  Karen was Jim’s most ardent and loyal supporter.  She was at his side through all his political endeavours, beside him in good days and rough days.  She believes, like Jim did, that public service is important, and for those of us who have benefited so tremendously from our communities, we have a responsibility to give back.

It is through Jim and Karen’s daughters Christina, Cassia and Kate, and their two sons‑in‑law and two grandchildren that the real strength of family shines through.  It’s fair to say that Jim’s girls moulded him as much as he moulded them.  The girls have a deep social awareness and a view of what is best for Canadian communities.  They rarely hesitated in sharing their thoughts with their dad, always to Jim’s benefit.

In this regard, I think of the contribution that Jim made to the arts in Canada, something that very few people know of.  Jim and Karen’s daughter Kate is a gifted visual artist with a strong view of the role and the importance of arts, arts education and building rich, generous and inclusive communities.

I know that because of this strong influence, Jim and Karen have become influential supporters and advocates for the arts.  Jim’s strong push to establish a national portrait gallery of Canada and his key support for the Government of Canada’s fundamental donation of $25 million to the Banff Centre stand as a testament to this family influence.

As well, Jim’s early support for same‑sex marriage and the appointment of many highly qualified women to fill government boards further outlines this connection.

It was Jim’s family who motivated him, supported him and kept his feet firmly on the ground.

My memory of Jim will be bookended by personal images.  In 2003, Jim at Cassia and our son’s high school graduation — as our designated photographer — catching lasting images of proud parents and our kids as they set out on bold adventures.

And just three months ago at Jim’s sixtieth birthday celebration, Karen and the girls regaling us with stories filled with love, humour and gentle pokes.

We were all so happy for Jim and Karen, excited to be part of the next great chapter.  We all enthusiastically urged Jim to stand and respond, to share some stories.  He stood up, dried a tear and told his family and his friends how much he loved them, and he quietly sat down.