Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall recently joined Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP as a special adviser to the firm and its clients. He is based in the firm’s Calgary office. Wall spoke with our Associate website Calgary’s Business about politics and the economy.
Calgary’s Business: Why did you decide to choose this new position and what do you see are your main role?
Wall: I am grateful for this opportunity, in particular because of the clear intersect between the public, regulatory arena, and economic sectors for which I have a high level of interest, including energy, natural resources, transportation and agriculture. I was able to meet folks from the firm’s Calgary, Toronto and Montreal offices and, without exception, each meeting only increased my interest in being a part of the firm. My due diligence produced only very positive feedback about Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt and I did a wide canvas.
Calgary’s Business: What needs to be done to attract more investment in the oil patch?
Wall: This question begs a long and fulsome answer that begins with government at the provincial and federal level focusing on improving our business and investment climate in the energy sector, greatly reducing the policy risk that is dissuading investment and even worse chasing it away. Government needs to send a strong signal that it intends to be competitive from a policy framework standpoint with our number one competitor for energy investment, the U.S.
Calgary’s Business: How important is it for the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Canadian economies to get this pipeline issue resolved?
Wall: It is fundamentally important. In addition to reducing the discount at which Saskatchewan and Albertan citizens sell our oil, the billions in costs to both the economy and the government treasury, the inability of Canada to successfully complete an approved expansion of an existing pipeline would send all the wrong signals about our energy investment climate.
Calgary’s Business: How confident are you that the pipeline issue will be resolved?
Wall: I am concerned. And if the answer is some sort of taxpayer-backed risk mitigation investment or public investment – I am not optimistic that this will improve our candidacy as a home for global energy investment or additional pipeline projects.
Calgary’s Business: What are your thoughts about economic diversification? Is this something both Saskatchewan and Alberta need to put more focus on? Or should the two provinces just put more resources into what they do best such as the natural resources sector?
Wall: Both provinces are focused on the diversification imperative. I think it is important for us to understand that lasting economic diversification happens when it is represented by innovation and value-add opportunities that are not necessarily strangers to a jurisdiction, but rather built upon that jurisdiction’s foundational sectors. In Saskatchewan, for example, that might mean new crops, life science, tech and value added in industries built upon of the modern agriculture sector.
– Mario Toneguzzi
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