Alberta Urges Caution on Fed Involvement in Canadian Sands Development

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said yesterday that more involvement and fewer tax breaks from the Canadian government in oil sands development would hurt all Canadians in the end.

Stelmach was responding to a leaked House of Commons report that suggests the government cancel its tax treatment for the Alberta oil sands industry to put the sector on equal footing with the rest of the energy industry.

The tax break, worth an estimated C$1.4 billion annually, may be revoked in the budget set for March 19.

The premier argued that all Canadians benefit from the tax treatments because of the royalties from Alberta's oil sands projects that feed into the industry. "Everyone forgets that over the next 20-year period, about $51 billion, 41 percent of the income, flows to the federal government," he said yesterday. "They actually make more on the oil sands than we do.

He added: "There's also tremendous sharing of that wealth with other provinces. It means jobs. It means jobs in Ontario. It means jobs in Quebec. It also means jobs in the Maritimes. So when they start thinking about starting to dicker with the investment climate, they've got to think it through because it's going to affect Canadians" (Dean Bennett, Canadian Press/Toronto Globe and Mail, March 5).

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