The Imperial Aspirations of Murray Edwards, Andrew Findlay, Alberta Venture, May 2015:
…Late in the 2013 B.C. provincial election campaign, when Liberal leader Christy Clark’s bid for the premier’s office seemed doomed, [Murray] Edwards hosted a fundraising dinner at the Calgary Petroleum Club, raising $1 million for her campaign that culminated in the ultimate upset victory, one that shocked pollsters and delivered Clark a majority government…
[Editor’s note: In about a decade, Edwards and associates contributed at least $1.15 million to Premier Clark’s party. List added – NF.]
While there’s nothing illegal about campaign contributions – some might even call it good business – Wade Davis sees it another way. The B.C.-born, internationally renowned ethnobotanist is the author of the bestselling book The Serpent and the Rainbow and is now on faculty at the University of British Columbia. Davis has a personal stake in the Imperial Metals story; he owns a lodge within view of the Red Chris Mine, which sits near Mount Todagin where the headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers rise. It’s a region that conservationists and First Nations refer to as the Sacred Headwaters.
He believes Edwards’ play in the B.C. mining sector demonstrates how power and politics influence resources management; in fact, that was the subject of a talk he gave on February 12 to a sold-out audience of 500 on the U.B.C. campus. Since 2006, the B.C. Liberal government has pushed hard for a controversial expansion of the power grid into the northern wilderness, at a cost of more than $800 million – $130 million of which came from the federal government’s Green Infrastructure Fund. The so-called Northwest Transmission Line was being built to enable a number of major resource development investments, including Shell Canada’s Klappan coalbed methane project and Nova Gold and Teck Resource’s Galore Creek copper and gold property, both of which have since been derailed by global economics. That leaves Red Chris, along with a small run-of-river hydro project owned by AltaGas (which sells power back to British Columbians at a premium price), as the only major player on the power line grid.
Davis says Red Chris would not be feasible without the extension of the power line, and that the $886-million expenditure “appears increasingly as a public subsidy for a single mine.” That’s why he is very uncomfortable with the Liberal government’s cozy relationship with Edwards. “I don’t think the B.C. government will do anything to compromise its relationship with that mine or Mr. Edwards,” Davis said, in an email…
Why did Alberta’s elusive billionaire really leave the country?, Gillian Steward, Toronto Star, April 2016:
When news surfaced last week that Murray Edwards, one of Calgary’s highest-profile billionaires, no longer claimed Calgary as his place of residence but had apparently set up house and home in London, England, it quickly became a hot political issue.
…But that didn’t stop a flurry of columnists and talk radio types from blaming the NDP government for forcing wealthy people and their money to leave Alberta for less onerous tax regimes.
Edwards is chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), one of the biggest oilsands players, he is also the controlling shareholder of Imperial Metals, a B.C. mining company, and chairman of Magellan Aerospace, a Mississauga-based company that supplies complex components to the aerospace and aviation industry.
And he is principal owner of the Calgary Flames.
…CNRL blamed the NDP’s corporate tax hike of two percentage points on the company’s second quarter loss of $405 million even though the deep dive in oil prices seemed the more likely culprit.
…Edwards and three other industry CEOs had been conducting secret negotiations with environmental NGOs so they could come to some agreement about climate change policies.
Environmental groups agreed to soften their opposition to oil export pipelines. The industry representatives agreed to a carbon tax and a cap on oilsands emissions.
But other oilpatch heavyweights were outraged by the deal and the fact they had been left out of the negotiations.
That Edwards was key to negotiations with environmental NGOs seems more than a little ironic given the environmental record of two of the corporations he leads.
…Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) found that for several years CNRL had used “excessive” steaming to melt underground bitumen so it could be brought to the surface.
The pressure caused fractures to rock formations and seepage of 1.2 million litres of oily water which contaminated 20.7 acres of land and killed birds and other animals at CNRL’s Primrose East operation, located 250 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
…The hockey front hasn’t exactly been encouraging for Edwards either.
The Flames are sitting on the bottom rungs of the league ladder. Last summer when Edwards and the rest of the team’s owners put forward a plan for a new arena that would cost almost $1 billion and require a good deal of taxpayers’ money, support among Calgarians was lukewarm at best.
Perhaps it’s just easier for Edwards to melt into London’s swarm of billionaires than face all the complications of living in Calgary these days.