Phenomenal for the oilpatch?

Blog, Energy, Marco Navarro-Genie

On the face of it, given notoriety and seniority, the announcement that Alison Redford has appointed Gary Mar to be Alberta’s trade representative for Asia seems to be good news. As this report suggests, Chinese businessmen and officials like to deal with senior people. So, policy-wise it seems like a good idea.

There is also political virtue in keeping one’s challenger far away, out of the country. No one needs a Paul Martin on one’s wing, spending just as much time organizing a come back as running things assigned to him.

Gary Mar

Gary Mar during 2011 Calgary Stampede

But is it an good idea on the whole? What precisely did Gary Mar accomplish during all his years in Washington? I am not convinced that the appointment is the holy grail for the oil patch, as some suggest. Granted, Mar has no animosity toward the oil industry.  But is that enough?

We need to be reminded that during Mar’s years in the American capital, the Canadian oil industry, and the Alberta oil sands in particular, became a lightening rod for the wrath and lunacy of every environmentalist malcontent between the Urals and the Rockies, including many in the US Congress and the White House.  Mar’s tenure at the Alberta Office in Washington from this perspective is more a failure than a “phenomenal” performance.

Let’s have some perspective for phenomenal. With a fraction of the resources Mar commanded in Washington and without the fat salary from the public treasury (on top of the cashed in pension), Ezra has done infinitely more for the oil industry in Alberta in half the time.

I don’t meant to imply that Mar is doomed to failure in his new job. I sincerely wish he succeeds. I am saying that the record shows no evidence to assume that Mar’s appointment will be “‘phenomenal’ for the oilpatch.”