Bill Morneau says energy was central in Calgary budget consultations

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was in Calgary on Thursday for consultations on the upcoming budget, meeting with the Business Council of Alberta. 

The cross-country consultations started in Toronto on Monday. 

Morneau said he had a constructive conversation in Calgary, adding he was reminded by those in the room of the importance of the city and Alberta economy to Canada. 

"We heard today the themes that I think would be familiar to you," he said, referring to the energy sector several times. 

Morneau said it's important to pitch Canada as a responsible developer of its natural resources and said it's important to deal with regional economic disparities. 

Alberta is suffering through high unemployment while the country as a whole enjoys historically low jobless figures. That's caused anger at the federal government and helped contribute to a complete shutout of the Liberals in the province in the last federal election. 

Climate change

The other topic that Morneau returned to was climate change, which he said is a threat that needs to be addressed. 

"We need to think about the way that we can reduce our carbon intensity, and that includes the oil and gas sector," he said. 

That doesn't address overall emissions, and Morneau dodged a question about when the government could make a decision on Teck's Frontier oilsands mine, which will challenge the government's climate change goals. 

"We obviously have to go through the process to get to a conclusion," he said.