Alison Redford, a Queen's University graduate and current premier of Alberta, delivers an address on campus Monday morning.
Credits: MICHAEL LEA/QMI AGENCY
Alison Redford was speaking at Queen's University, as part of the principal's campus forum, on topics that ranged from Chinese investment to the Liberal leadership hopeful's poor choice of words.
"My sense is that Justin Trudeau probably learned an awful lot (about) being on the political stage in the past two years," she told a packed crowd in Wallace Hall.
Redford said she abhors any comments "that pit people against each other," whether they be about people from the east or the west, black or white, gay or straight.
She urged people to stick to the issues through open conversation.
Trudeau has learned from his mistakes and has apologized, she said.
"And I take him at his word."
Redford was returning to her alma mater for the address. She spent two years at Queen's, from 1983-1985 and, at one point, was a student of now-principal Daniel Woolf when he was teaching in the department of history.
Woolf told the audience his forum was designed to bring to Queen's "the country's most interesting thinkers and doers."
In her address, Redford said the world around us is constantly changing.
"And we have the responsibility to work collectively to manage and mitigate that change for the better, for the greater good," she said.
That effort could have beneficial results not just in Alberta or Canada but globally, she said.
"For there is no doubt that what we do today is felt around the world. We owe our country, the world and our planet a future to ensure we are planning for the long term," Redford said.
She said the development of her province's energy resources is an issue that impacts all Canadians and can benefit the national economy.
"We all want the same thing," she said. "We want a strong economy, we want a healthy environment and we want a sustainable future."
She said Canada is an energy powerhouse and the premiers of the various provinces realize they must work together to make the sensible, long-term decisions that will allow the economy to grow, and not just concentrate on winning the next election.
She said politicians make a serious mistake if they underestimate how thoughtful voters are and think they can be mollified by short-term solutions.
That co-operation will allow the country to build needed energy infrastructure "so that we can collectively produce more energy more efficiently and meet international demand," she continued.
"Collaboration and co-operation is, I believe, what has made Canada great."
Energy production comes with an environmental cost, she said.
"Although energy production is a key factor in the Canadian economy, we know it has consequences."
She said Alberta is working to solve the environmental impact of that production. Part of that effort is a concentration on renewable energy technology and green initiatives.
"It is important for us to keep investing in that technology so we can continually strive to be better. We want to make sure that we are seen to be responsible global citizens. Because we are responsible global citizens," she said.
In a question period following her address, Redford said the proposal by a state-run company from China to invest in Alberta's energy production is "a tremendous opportunity."
She knew there are detractors to the proposal but said such moves were necessary to allow the economy to grow. Investors at that scale, able to commit such a large amount of money, are not common around the world, she said.