Gary Mar to represent Alberta in Asia
Goodbye Capitol Hill. Hello Hong Kong ... oh and a $264,576 salary
It was only a matter of time, really, before Gary Mar was given a plum posting by his main rival for the top job in Alberta. Mar, the former provincial envoy in Washington, D.C., will now turn his attention to Asia as the province’s point man in Hong Kong for the tidy salary of $264,576. Newly installed Premier Alison Redford announced the appointment today.
For Mar, the job will have none of the pretension of his previous post on Capitol Hill. That is, one expects he will take a more direct tack with Beijing, especially with energy. In a 2010 Alberta Oil interview, the American envoy-cum-oil sands champion recalled spending a lot of time convincing American legislators that there’s more to the oil sands (and Alberta in general) than the cartoonish portrait of industry run amok painted by its detractors.
“We let people know this is not a Wild West of development,” he said. “There are standards we hold people up to.”
Whether or not officials in Beijing or Seoul are all that concerned about keeping up appearances is another matter. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Mar meeting a Henry Waxman-like counterpart on the streets of Shanghai. (You’ll remember Waxman as a leading critic of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline expansion during his time as the senior Democrat on Washington’s House Committee on Energy and Commerce).
Also missing in the Far East, particularly in China, are any pretensions that a clean-tech revolution is just around the corner. Forecasts widely expect the factory of the world to account for nearly 50 per cent of global oil demand growth in the next five years. Meantime, the country’s energy giants are falling over themselves to buy up western Canadian energy assets. (Witness this week’s blockbuster purchase of Daylight Energy by Sinopec for $2-billion and change).
What Mar can’t do, of course, is expedite infrastructure needed to reach Pacific markets. While the Apache Canada-led Kitimat LNG project obtained regulatory approval this week – less than a year from the date project proponents originally submitted their export application to the National Energy Board – to ship super-cooled gas to Asian markets, Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway is nowhere near approval, never mind construction.
All the glad-handing in the world won’t solve that.