Alberta exits petroleum meet over Ukraine crisis

By: Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

 | May 14, 2014 - 2:50 PM |
EDMONTON - Alberta is pulling out of next month's World Petroleum Congress in Moscow to protest Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"The message we're sending to the Ukraine is one of continued support, and to Russia one of concern about the intervention that they've taken and the escalating tensions that they're creating," Premier Dave Hancock told reporters Wednesday.

He said he had not heard back from the Russians, as the withdrawal announcement had just gone out.

Hancock said he's not worried about repercussions of the decision.

"Sometimes you just have to do the right thing for the right reasons," he said.

The World Petroleum Congress, considered the premier trade show for the oil and gas industry, is set for June 15-19 in Moscow.

The congress website says 3,000 delegates, including 400 CEOs, will do business with industry operators government officials.

Hancock says the province has notified 13 Alberta companies that had planned to go to Moscow.

He said the government is not encouraging those companies to pull out as well, but said they will ask them "not to participate in government-sponsored events, but to deal with the petroleum events."

Cal Dallas, the minister for international and intergovernmental relations, estimated about $100,000 has already been spent or committed for Alberta's role at the forum.

He said if they had gone, the total would have gone up to $180,000.

The province was to have a booth at the pavilion and was to be on hand to help provincial business leaders meet and network.

Canada is among the western nations imposing travel bans and economic sanctions on Russian companies and individuals.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Russia's occupation of Ukraine and its provocative military actions remain a serious concern to the international community.

Dallas said Russia is Alberta's 10th largest trading partner, but said that figure is a bit misleading, given that the lion's share of trade is with the United States.

Neither Dallas nor Hancock said they could remember the province making a similar protest move on the international stage.

"These types of steps I would describe as outside the norm," said Dallas.

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