New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 2, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
EDMONTON -- Premier Alison Redford's got some juggling to do -- the jockeying for international market for Alberta bitumen, the battle against public bias and envy over the province's oilsands, maintaining and promoting the sought-after balance between environmental and economic stability.
Retreating behind a digital curtain, Redford took her response to firebrand federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's negative spin on the oilsands not to the media, but to Facebook and other social media Wednesday as pressure mounted from eastern Canada and BC on several fronts.
With more than 800 tweets to her credit - Redford "tweeted" the names of her cabinet as they were sworn in, another historic first - she declined media interview requests but weighed in with a post on her own Facebook page Wednesday on the Mulcair debacle, calling his comments about the oilsands "divisive and ill-informed."
"Alberta has strict environmental laws that support the responsible development of the oilsands," she posted.
"His claims about unregulated development and disregard for the environment are false. I would also like to make it clear to Mr.
Mulcair that as Premier of Alberta I expect that someone would have the courtesy to properly inform themselves rather than making disparaging comments about Alberta."
Presumably, Mulcair's a friend on Facebook.
"Is this national leadership? @ThomasMulcair continues to make divisive, ill-informed and false comments," Redford tweeted.
As leader of the official Opposition, Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith called Mulcair's statements "outrageous and shocking," and "dangerous to Alberta's economy."
"When the international community takes note of that, it makes it very, very difficult for Alberta to continue building pipelines and to
be able to find new markets," she said, calling Mulcair a major Canadian political figure who continues to antagonize Western Canada.
"I don't think he knows the true value of this resource, not only to our province but to every other province - this is not a good way to start his relationship with Western Canada," Smith said, adding that she has a problem with Redford's silence on Mulcair's loose lips.
"I just don't think she gets how dangerous this is - and how much Albertans expect her to stand strong in defending Alberta's economic interests," Smith said.
"(Redford) has not challenged (Mulcair) as the premier of the province that has the lion's share of this resource within our borders," she said.
Alberta's relative wealth among provinces is raising the hackles of other provinces on other issues.
This week, BC Premier Christy Clark raised the idea of royalties on Alberta bitumen passing through planned Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines that would cut through BC.
Meanwhile, Ontario's Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty sent a letter to his fellow premiers Sunday asking them to band together on physician pay and follow his government's lead in cuts to doctor fees, even as doctor groups in his debt-laden province warned of moving to other jurisdictions.
Health Minister Fred Horne said Wednesday Ontario needs to mind its own doctor fees.
"It's for Ontario to determine how they're going to manage physician fees in their provinces. That said, Alberta will make decisions on what's best for our physicians," he said.
"We want to be competitive, we want to remunerate our doctors fairly and to try to create a climate where doctors want to come to Alberta and want to stay here," Horne said.
Competition is stiff for physicians, especially in primary care and chronic disease care specialties, Horne said, adding that Alberta's not recruiting Ontario docs.
Final legal language for a package of physician increases negotiated pre-election is being inked now, Horne said.