Albertans don’t give up and we don’t stay quiet. We will campaign like never before to win the hearts and minds of Canadians — a fight we are winning as public support across the country is rising. For generations, Alberta has been forced to sell our resources to one customer — the United States — and to sell those resources at a major discount. The Federal Court of Appeal pointed to deficiencies in the National Energy Board process that need to be addressed — deficiencies that date back to the former Conservative government.
Establishing a clear and reliable timeline to resume construction of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline is our main goal right now. Ottawa instructed the National Energy Board to reconsider its recommendation taking into account marine shipping, and stipulated that the NEB had 22 weeks to get its work done. The regulatory timeline laid out is in line with what we knew was the best-case scenario when the federal court ruled. Our focus is to ensure that the timeline is set in stone. We will not tolerate legal game-playing. This expansion project is long overdue. It will provide 15,000 construction jobs, 37,000 jobs once in service, and inject $15 billion into the national economy. And we will keep the pressure on, making sure that Ottawa understands that for workers in Strathcona County and across Canada, failure is not an option. In September, I had the opportunity to represent our province on behalf of Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous, and as the co-chair of the Canada-U.S. relations committee, at the Council of State Governments (CSG) West Annual General Meeting in Utah. Alberta’s participation gives us the opportunity to highlight Alberta as an attractive destination for investment, and speak to the importance of Alberta gaining market access for the purpose of ensuring energy security for U.S. states. While there, I discussed the significance of trade with Alberta for U.S. states, and advocated for the importance of maintaining a trilateral agreement in NAFTA modernization negotiations. I brought forward a resolution affirming the North America Free Trade Agreement as a trilateral agreement between our countries. I’m pleased to say the resolution passed and will be distributed to U.S. government officials and organizations alike for their information on the stance of the organization. I had a busy September, and I know our students, teachers, parents, and support staff did as well. Back to school is always such an exciting time of year. Over the last few years, the Ardrossan Elementary school rebuild has been well under way. The project had parents knocking on my door when I was recently elected as they were concerned that the proposed building would not have enough learning spaces for the students. It was with the collaboration of dedicated parents, school board trustee Jim Seutter, and me that we advocated for an expansion. We got it. It is a proud day for the community of Ardrossan to open a replacement school with over 500 learning spaces. This represents the continued commitment to investment in education from our provincial government. On Friday, Sept. 28, I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the replacement for Ardrossan Elementary School, one of 18 schools opening their doors this fall. Our government knows that building new schools is one of the most important things we can do – it’s an investment in our children and the future.
Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: email@example.com