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We asked three prominent Albertans one question: “What will be the defining issue in Alberta in 2013?”

Into the Crystal Ball: setting aside concerns about trying to predict the future, here’s what they said

Dec 31, 2012

by Alberta Venture Staff


The global battle for talent

Elizabeth Cannon

President, University of Calgary


Illustration Dushan Milic

“We must recruit great students to our universities. We know there are a lot of jobs here post-graduation. Let’s get them here early so they can become part of our communities as students and then we know they will want to stay. We see that with the students that come here.

The world of post-secondary education is very competitive, but it’s not about selling one institution. It’s about selling the province. We have Campus Alberta, an umbrella organization of the 26 post-secondary institutions in the province. We work together on mobility programs between our institutions and branding with government on what Campus Alberta is. There is more that can be done and we look to the provincial government to provide additional leadership.

We’re seeing an increase in students coming from other provinces, particularly B.C. and Ontario, but the opportunity to draw in more students from other parts of the country as we build capacity in our institutions is an opportunity for us.”

The price of oil, and our reliance on it

Chris Labossiere

Co-founder, Yardstick Software

“I have a bit of a pessimistic macro-economic viewpoint resulting from a global slowdown coupled with currency, banking and sovereign debt issues. The major commodity economies are experiencing some abrupt slowdowns and if the emerging economies, which have been propping up our economy for a long time, slow, we might see a significant reduction in oil prices.

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The issue that will define us is how we react in such a world. How will our cities and our knowledge economy and the quality of life – all the things that are necessary for us to be competitive in a global economy – manage? Do we have the diversity in our economy and in our communities to be competitive if the oxygen gets sucked out of the room?

The Premier’s task force on the economy a year ago – the Emerson report, which has a lot of dust on it – was one of the best things to come out of our government in the last few years. But what are we doing along those lines? What are we developing such that we are not completely reliant on energy in the future?”

The pan-Canadian energy strategy

Mike Shaikh

Chair, Calgary Police Commission

“We will have Keystone XL built before Northern Gateway because of our internal fighting, and it makes me sick to see that. I want to make sure we define a pan-Canadian energy strategy in such a way that it’s easier for people to do business across provinces so the country can flourish. Right now, we’re telling the world, ‘We’re not very easy to do business in.’ We need an energy commission going across the provinces and making recommendations to the prime minister.

An energy strategy will help to get rid of the current price discount on our energy products. We are being annihilated. Not only the producers, but the government of Alberta itself is losing revenue. Once we have a pan-Canadian energy strategy, we will have different markets and the discounts will come down.”

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