EDMONTON — Incoming NDP Alberta premier Rachel Notley, in her first full day on the job, extended an olive branch to the energy industry and promised there will be no special treatment for unions.
Notley said she will work with oil and gas and other business leaders to assure them her government will be a partner in building the province.
"I'm going to be making phone calls today to leaders within the energy industry to begin those conversations," Notley told reporters at the legislature Wednesday. "They can count on us to work collaboratively with them.
"I'm hopeful that over the course of the next two weeks they will come to realize that things are going to be just A-OK over here in Alberta."
Asked about the close relationship the NDP traditionally has with unions, Notley said there will be no fear or favour shown.
"My job is to represent all Albertans, and job creation is a good part of that," she said. "There's no question that there's common cause on many issues with union leaders, but there's also common cause on many issues with business leaders.
"That's the kind of approach I'm going to take with governance."
Notley and her team began their transition to power Wednesday after four decades of Progressive Conservative rule.
She must name a cabinet out of her 53-member caucus, many of whom are new to politics. She must also craft a new budget, and the legislature must vote in a new speaker to replace defeated Progressive Conservative Gene Zwozdesky.
Notley said everything will become clearer in the coming days as she works with her transition team and advisers, which includes former Saskatchewan NDP premier Roy Romanow.
"You know, I haven't actually been asked by the lieutenant-governor yet to be the premier," said Notley. "So there are actually some things that have to occur before you start mapping out calendars."
The NDP had four legislature members and the PCs had 70 when former premier Jim Prentice dropped the writ last month on what proved for him to be a disastrous campaign that left his party in third place with 10 seats.
Prentice took the stage to quit public life before the final polls in his Calgary-Foothills riding were counted. He won, so there's now a need for a byelection.
In the closing days of the campaign Prentice tried to sow fear amongst voters over what he termed a job-killing, anti-business NDP platform.
Notley has promised to hike income taxes for the wealthy and increase Alberta's corporate income tax rate to 12 per cent from 10 per cent — the lowest in Canada.
She has also promised to review whether Albertans are getting value for money on oil royalties, and to set up a panel to determine if more oil refining jobs can be created within the province.
Notley has also said she would take a less hands-on role in stumping for certain pipeline proposals — unlike past Progressive Conservative premiers who actively promoted such projects as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway.
Energy stocks were hurting on Wednesday. Major oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) was down six per cent, while Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) were down about three per cent.
But Notley said the platform she ran on will be the one she implements.
"It's absolutely not my intention on E-plus-one to suddenly start rewriting the very principles that I presented to Albertans."
Asked about her relationship with federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, she said she has great respect for him and other political leaders. But she added, "My job will be to work collaboratively with all of them, but always with the focus on doing the best that I can for Albertans."
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press