Kenney visits Washington, pushing stronger energy ties between Alberta and U.S.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney begins his two-day blitz in Washington today, hoping to convince U.S. lawmakers his province is best positioned to strengthen North American energy security.

"It is deeply frustrating to us that we don't even show up on the radar screen when it comes to [energy] discussions," Kenney said at a roundtable with journalists.

"If the U.S. is serious about this energy problem, all I'm saying is we've got the supply. We just need more infrastructure."

On Tuesday, Kenney will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where he plans to promote Alberta's oil sands and make the hard sell for Americans to import more energy from Canada instead of "conflict nations."

"Why is the instinct in the [Biden] Administration to call Riyadh, Tehran, and Caracas, and not Calgary? No one has ever given a good answer to that question," he said.

Kenney’s invitation to the committee was extended by the committee's chairman, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a unpredictable Democrat who visited Alberta's oil sands in April.

Manchin has been a vocal critic of U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which would have transported oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

"The Keystone XL pipeline is something we should have never abandoned. Now we wish we hadn't," Manchin said during his visit to Alberta last month.

Alberta's government recently launched a $6 million advertisement campaign to brand itself as a reliable energy supplier for Americans struggling with soaring gas prices and supply disruptions caused by a ban on Russian oil.

Kenney said he will also urge committee members to oppose Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's push to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline, which could disrupt energy supplies from Midwest states into Ontario.

"If you think people are paying high prices right now, I wouldn't want to be a Congressman or a Senator from a Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, if Line 5 got shut down," he said.

But Kenney's moment under America's spotlight comes on the eve of a critical vote on his leadership of the party. He returns to Alberta on Wednesday, where he will learn the results of a United Conservative Party referendum on whether he should stay on as leader and premier.

Kenney said a confidence vote of 50%+1 is enough of a mandate for him to remain in power.

"I've never lost an election and I don't plan on doing so now," he said.

With files from the Canadian Press