Business tycoon and Conservative leader hopeful Kevin O’Leary levelled some harsh criticism at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley Thursday in response to a decision by Shell to sell some of its oilsands interests in Alberta.
Speaking in Calgary, O’Leary suggested the decision by Shell is a non-confidence vote to a number of Notley’s energy polices and questioned her current mandate.
“While we’re watching $5 billion-plus leave right now, she’s down in Texas with Justin Trudeau teaching them about carbon taxes. Let me tell you. Texans don’t like carbon taxes.”
A spokesperson for the premier’s office sent this response to Global News about O’Leary’s comments about Shell’s decision:
“We are pleased to see CNRL, an Alberta company and one of Canada’s largest energy firms increasing their holdings in the oil sands. No one should be surprised that Shell is following through on their long term strategic plan to focus on areas where they have global scale and competitive advantages such as integrated gas and deep water.”
The former reality television star was unequivocal in his opinion about Alberta’s premier.
“Alberta is completely broken under her leadership,” he said.
“She’s a toxic cocktail of mediocrity and incompetence. Poisonous.”
He went on to say he’s doing everything in his power to get rid of her.
“I do not want to work with her when I become prime minister. She is not good for a pro-growth, pro-job environment at all.”
O’Leary offered specific suggestions on what Notley should be doing in this kind of an economic climate, including eliminating the corporate tax rates, royalty rates and carbon tax. He made this promise to Albertans:
“If for some freak of nature, Rachel Notley was still running this place when I become prime minister, here’s what I’ll do for you. I will simply call her up on the phone and say, ‘If you take a single dollar of carbon tax out of any company in Alberta, I will deduct it from your transfer payments. I will go to war on you on this.’ And by the way, I have the ability to do that as prime minister. If she gets in my way of growing jobs here or getting capital back into Alberta, I will be extremely punitive. Let me send that signal right now.”
Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt believes O’Leary was trying to send a message to a certain group of people with his comments.
“He is running for the leader of the Conservative Party. Conservative Party members are the only ones voting. Conservative Party members in Alberta do not like Notley or NDP. Therefore, he is pandering to them. He would praise (Saskatchewan Premier Brad) Wall, but not Notley or (Ontario Premier Kathleen) Wynne.”
The Conservative leader hopeful was clear that he believes 100 per cent of the blame for the current economic climate in Alberta rests on Notley’s shoulders, saying Alberta used to be the envy of North America.
“And then all of a sudden, this dark malaise, this nightmare called Rachel Notley arrived here. I give 100 per cent of the blame on her because she doesn’t know how to work with a low price on the commodity.”
He went on to suggest that if she worked for one of his companies, he would have fired her a long time ago.
“Whatever her calling in life is, it is not running an energy-rich province. She has to go. Trudeau’s another disaster.“
The premier’s office responded with this, “As for the federal conservative leadership, we’re not going to wade in on that debate. Instead, we are going to continue to focus on creating jobs, making life more affordable, and protecting the public services Alberta families rely on.”
Bratt questioned whether O’Leary’s threats would extend to also eliminate British Columbia’s carbon tax or other gas taxes.
“What other areas of provincial policy would he intervene in?”