Kent Hehr

Your member of parliament for

Calgary Centre

Kent Hehr

Your member of parliament for

Calgary Centre


Oped: Albertans Are Ready To Be Leaders In Innovation

This oped was originally posted online on the Huffington Post in October, 2016.

One of the reasons I ran for the position of Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre a year ago this week was to bring about policies that would grow the economy, support the middle class, and those seeking to join it.

To get our economy growing again we need to invest in helping our businesses and entrepreneurs — including those in energy — become more innovative, competitive, and successful.

It’s about jobs, economic security, and creating a new path forward for Alberta with an agenda for innovation.

Our commitment to making Alberta an energy centre of excellence and energy innovation is real. In September the federal Minister for Innovation Navdeep Bains and I announced some $150 million for the University of Calgary to invest in strategic infrastructure and in research for reducing carbon emissions.

These investments in Calgary have been called “game changing” and “transformative.”

As mentioned, I ran for federal politics because of public policy like the above. I also saw, quite clearly, that the previous government did not see such a need to make these critical investments and involve Albertans in an innovation agenda.

Conservatives took this city and province for granted for ten years. We saw no progress to getting our energy products to tidewater — not one inch of pipeline created to international markets.

While the previous government committed to infrastructure projects the announcements were made yet there was no follow through on this money or a plan to get infrastructure built. Talks of economic diversification were given lip-service and there was never any progress on the carbon file.

By not acting on climate change, not engaging with the world, our national interests were undermined. Under the Conservatives’ watch we came within a single vote of having our energy products barred from sale in the EU.

In contrast we are reacting to the needs of Albertans and the opportunities arising in the global economy. Alberta now has a true partner in the federal government.

While chairing the Northern Alberta Wildfires committee, I and my colleagues made sure the province received disaster assistance funding at “pretty much the speed of light.”

The Government of Canada issued the maximum amount of dollars under the fiscal stabilization agreement to the Alberta Government – nearly half a billion dollars of federal transfer payments sent directly to a province facing the dual emergencies of the collapsed oil prices and natural disaster. This was on top of our $2.5 billion reform package on Employment Insurance in Budget 2016, which specifically named and targeted those impacted in Alberta by the downturn.

It is essential in shaping our future to merge safeguarding our environment and supporting our energy industries, because to do anything less does not make sense. Our Innovation Agenda lays out a vision to build Canada as a global centre for innovation. Our mission is to create jobs, drive growth across all industries and improve the lives of all Canadians.

And as usual, Albertans are already leading the way. With the province’s Climate Leadership Plan the province will already be three-fifths of the way to the 2022 federal carbon price goal — with four years to spare. And it’s about this leadership and positioning Canada to be a world leader on energy.

After a decade of inaction our country and province are taking real action to create opportunity, deliver a better future for our children, and build a stronger economy. We’re ready for real change and innovation.

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