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The National Energy Program

The Queen with Mr. & Mrs. Lougheed

The National Energy Program (NEP) was introduced on October 28, 1980 by the Honourable Marc Lalonde. The NEP sought to increase both Canadian control and Canadian ownership of the energy industry. It also sought to protect all Canadians from surging oil prices. The federal government would accomplish their goals through measures such as price controls and federal taxes on oil and gas production. These measures would increase federal government control in the oil and gas industry. 

Many Albertans were upset over the NEP for several reasons. First, they perceived the NEP as an intrusion on their provincial rights since control of natural resources falls under provincial jurisdiction . Second, some Albertans felt that the NEP was passed to benefit Alberta's natural resources central Canada, particularly Ottawa. Many argued that Alberta lost a tremendous amount of money due to the NEP. These figures differ from scholar to scholar and range from $50 to $100 billion dollars. Third, Albertans were angered by the NEP due to the fact that a significant number of oil companies left the province of Alberta, leaving many Albertans unemployed. Some Albertans showed their disapproval by sporting bumper stickers that stated "Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark." Premier Peter Lougheed's planned actions against the federal government and central Canada included cutting oil production. 

To this day, the National Energy Program is a sore spot with many Albertans. The NEP is often cited as an example of federal government discrimination, which increased feelings of western alienation and led to the creation of many western separatist groups. Premier Peter Lougheed will be forever remembered for his tremendous leadership during this period of Alberta's history. 




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Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaks to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Alberta's energy sector.
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Information written and provided by Maria Elizabeth Vicente, MA

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