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IPFS News Link • World News

For Big Oil, the Party's Over in Alberta


There's a reason they call Alberta the Texas of the North. The province is home to Canada's oil industry and produces more than three-quarters of the country's crude. Cowboys are popular there. Each July, Calgary hosts the Stampede, a 10-day rodeo that's one of the largest in the world. Alberta's government also has deeply conservative, probusiness roots that predate the Republican Party's ascension in the Lone Star State. The Progressive Conservatives have controlled Alberta's provincial government since 1971, ushering in an era of loose regulation and low taxes that helped give rise to the development of Alberta's vast tracts of tarlike oil sands.

Now, there's a new sheriff in town. On May 5, the liberal New Democratic Party won a general election, ending the conservatives' four-decade reign and delivering a blow to the spiritual home of Canada's conservative movement. The NDP's brand of social democratic politics tends to favor things like subsidized day care and government job-creation schemes over low corporate tax rates. Leader and soon-to-be Premier Rachel Notley, a 51-year-old lawyer whose father ran the party in the 1970s, plans to make the oil industry pay up and fill a C$7 billion ($5.8 billion) budgetary gap for schools and hospitals—even after crude prices collapsed last year. "We need finally to end the boom-and-bust roller coaster that we have been riding on for too long," she said in her May 5 victory speech. That means higher corporate taxes, a review of royalties that companies pay the government for extracting fossil fuels, and tougher environmental and climate rules for a province that accounts for 38 percent of Canada's carbon emissions.