I’ve had the privilege of travelling across the province this summer to connect with Albertans and hear about the issues of importance to them. I want to thank everyone I met on this trip who reminded me why I ran for the Senate: to represent your interests in Ottawa and help to build a better Alberta and a better Canada.
In Edmonton I met with Premier Alison Redford to discuss how we can bring Canadians together to discuss our shared energy future. Advocating for responsible energy development and telling our province’s story is my top priority as a Senator representing Alberta. I also met with Minister of Service Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Aboriginal Relations Robin Campbell, and Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.
Finally, I had an informative briefing from Alberta Innovates Vice President Richard Wayken. We discussed the work that they are doing to ensure Alberta remains the world leader in the development of pipeline safety innovations, such as participating in the Canadian Pipeline Technology Collaborative.
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is one of Canada’s most dynamic communities and a major driver of our economy. As I argued in a statement in the Senate earlier this year, securing market access for the energy produced in this region must be an urgent priority for our country. We must not forget that getting the best price for our resources allows us to build more schools, hospitals, roads, and support the arts.
My first meeting in town was with Mayor Melissa Blake, one of Canada’s most dedicated and energetic municipal leaders. Mayor Blake has a bold vision to make RMWB a leader in sustainability through projects such as the Zero Waste Initiative. I hope that many Albertans and Canadians will come see this vibrant community for themselves when it hosts the Western Canada Summer Games in August 2015.
Next I visited the Redpoll Centre – an incubator for social profit organizations. By providing low-cost rent in a high-cost city, as well as valuable shared services and opportunities for collaboration, the Centre works to make sure that the social needs of the region are met alongside economic ones. I was able to hear from organization representatives about the great work being done by the United Way of Fort McMurray, Safe Community Wood Buffalo, The HUB Family Resource Centre, Non-Profit Sector Link, Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, and ConvergenceYYM.
Later in the day I headed off for a meeting with Interim Executive Director of the Oil Sands Developers Group Lee Funke, MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin Don Scott, and Minister of Energy Ken Hughes, to discuss how the oil sands industry contributes to workforce, infrastructure and community development in the region.
Finally, I had the privilege of a tour of MacDonald Island with COO Tim Reid. MacDonald Island is Canada’s largest community, recreational, leisure, and social centre, and is undergoing a dramatic expansion with construction of the Shell Place addition. When I wrote my recent Letter to the Editor in response to comments made by uninformed celebrities about Fort McMurray, this is the side of our community that I wanted people to understand. MacDonald Island boasts an incredible variety of activities and is packed throughout the year, including with young families. As I told local radio station Mix 103.7, Fort McMurray is a vibrant and caring community and we need to do a better job of making sure that people here at home in Canada and around the world know that truth.
You can view more photos of my tour in the gallery below.