Neil Waugh has a very interesting column in today's Edmonton Sun. It all starts with a phone call that Premier Stelmach received from Prime Minister Harper after the election victory on Monday.
The basic gist is the raising of mutual alarm bells about some of the protectionist talk going on down in the United States... particularily alarming if the Democrats take the White House as expected in November.
For as much as the Americans talk about reducing their dependence on foreign oil, what they really mean is that they want to reduce their dependence on Middle Eastern oil. That's where we come in.
We are North America's largest and most stable source of energy for the foreseeable future. The American rhetoric surrounding environmental regulations and NAFTA should have us all concerned and I, for one, am pleased to see that both the Prime Minister and the Premier recognize the dangers of some of the talk going on south of the border.
This talk, however, puts an extraordinary burden on Premier Stelmach's shoulders as he puts together his cabinet.
When it comes to the Industry, Foreign Affairs, and International Trade files, the Federal Government has top-notch Ministers in charge who understand the complexity of their portfolios and how important it is to keep things going with our U.S. trading partners.
On the Energy file, though, Ottawa falls a bit short (seriously, no pun intended). That's just as well anyway, if you ask me, since I think that Alberta should be the Leaders when it comes to dealing with the Americans on Oil and Gas.
Because of this, Premier Stelmach needs to be exceptionally diligent when he chooses which MLAs will become the Ministers in charge of Energy and International Relations respectively. These individuals will need to be ready to jump in with both feet to deal with our southern neighbours to explain to them some of the ramifications on both sides of the border should their rhetoric turn into hard legislation.
A number of portfolios in Cabinet will have room for Ministers who may a few months on the proverbial training wheels.
Energy and International Relations, however, will not.
The Premier simply has to get these two right.