Alberta Premier Danielle Smith mandated several key ministers to bolster the province’s energy and fertilizer industries – counter to top-down targets imposed by the Trudeau government concerning carbon emission reductions. 

The Alberta Government published its 2023 mandate letters on Wednesday, signalling some of Smith’s priorities as she begins her first term as Premier. 

Former UCP leadership contender and newly minted Minister of Energy and Minerals Brian Jean was directly tasked by the premier to combat federal government overreach in the province’s oil and gas sector. 

Premier Smith asked to work with Jean directly in her co-current role as the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations to defend “Alberta’s energy interests against federal overreach and develop strategic alliances with other provinces to deal with energy-related issues.” 

Jean was also tasked with reviewing findings by the Alberta Energy Futures panel, established by Smith this year to guide the provincial government’s oil and gas sector policies into the long-term.

“(You are tasked with) continuing to facilitate and promote industry and provincial partnerships with Indigenous communities in the development and transport of Alberta’s energy resources,” wrote Smith. 

Smith has been an opponent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “just transition” plan and ran in the last election on a platform to combat federal interference in Alberta’s energy sector. 

Much of the mandate letter focuses on technological solutions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, including investing in modular reactors and carbon capture. 

In her mandate letter to Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation RJ Sigurdson, Smith assigned Sigurdson with expanding the availability of nitrogen fertilizer – seemingly in contradiction to the federal government’s voluntary 30% fertilizer emission reduction target for the end of this decade.

Smith asked the Minister to explore “ways to encourage increased nitrogen production in our petrochemical sector to reduce costs and improve availability of fertilizer for Alberta farmers.” 

Additionally, Sigurdson is to advocate on behalf of Alberta farmers and push back “against policies passed by other jurisdictions that hinder the sector.” 

As exclusively reported by True North earlier this year, internal federal analysis shows that adopting fertilizer emission reduction targets would unfairly target Western Canadian farmers and upend food supplies.