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Alberta Connects Conference - with Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Brett Murray, CEO of JEBCO Industries, participated recently in the Alberta Connects conference on behalf of the Albertan Business Association.
Brett Murray, CEO of JEBCO Industries, participated recently in the Alberta Connects conference on behalf of the Albertan Business Association.

The conference brought more than 50 business leaders to Ottawa to meet with political leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan, Industry Minister Tony Clement, Environment Minister Jim Prentice, and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

The conference was focused on the role Alberta plays in the Canadian economy; specifically how other provinces benefit from the Albertan Oil Sands.

The Albertan Oil Sands have been called a "Great Canadian Treasure" by John Ferguson of Suncor Energy, and has also been called a "wellspring of great wealth and innovation". Last year, the Oil Sands invested over $30 billion in infrastructure, more than any government stimulus package in North America. $218 billion dollars will be poured into new projects in the Oil Sands over the next two decades.

Criticism from environmental groups has targeted the Albertan Oil Sands recently, who are pushing for a Green House Gas Tax and more stern environmental laws.

The conference promoted the good record that the Oil Sands have recently been having on the environment. Contrary to popular belief, much of the environmental damage caused from Oil comes from the end user, automobiles, opposed to the extraction process.

Brett spoke on behalf of a group of Albertan businesses, promoting the necessity of the oil sands for all Canadians, not just Albertans. "Today, the Oil Sands represent 40% of our annual business sales and are considered invaluable in the profitability and future growth of our firm", said Brett. "The projects we have done for the Oil Sands over the past 5 years have provided our firm with continual growth, and is the main contributor to our expansion in 2008/2009 of more than tripling our capacity....".

Although the Oil Sands are a heavy foundation for many Canadian businesses, the interprovincial tax structure can put a huge burden on these local companies; who have to compete with American companies who can ship it directly, and cheaper. Buying Canadian materials for a Canadian natural resource makes sound business sense, and Canadian companies should get the competitive advantage to win these contracts in their home field.

Regardless, it is important to recognize that the Albertan Oil Sands are critically important to Canada's, not just Alberta's, economic well-being. A strong Alberta will always equal an economically strong Canada.