They do say the best defence is a good offence. As Premier Smith jets off to Dubai for the COP28 conference this week, she leaves behind her headline announcements that taken together, make it considerably harder for the Trudeau Liberals to present her to the conference — and more importantly to other Canadians — as a climate change-denying, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. Not that federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault won’t try.Indeed, open warfare has already begun. Both Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson proclaimed themselves to be “Blindsided. Back bitten. Hurt feelings, even,” as my friend and colleague Shaun Polczer summarized their statements in his perceptive report on Tuesday.In their joint statement late Monday, both Guilbeault and Wilkinson accused Smith of “choosing to create fear and uncertainty over collaboration and positive results for Albertans.” Wilkinson added he was “bewildered,” citing what he characterized as “good progress” having been made.Guilbeault also expressed surprise that she would have invoked the Sovereignty Act.Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?There is of course no excuse for Guilbeault’s surprise. Having yielded nothing in his demands for a net-zero grid in 2035, he had every reason to expect Smith to play her strong card. Come, come sir!But it is equally disingenuous for Wilkinson to claim ongoing federal-provincial consultations have produced progress. Fear and uncertainty is what prospective natural gas power generators experience in Alberta, thanks to the policies of the government for which he speaks.As for progress, it is often the case in negotiations of any kind, that with great effort marginal issues may be resolved, progress claimed but in fact to have barely moved the needle.In this case, discussions surrounding carbon capture requirements for pre-existing gas generating plants may be helpful, in the sense that providing the shop steward with a better parking spot may be helpful. It does not however, address Alberta’s issue, which is that it’s a lot more important to a lot more people that there’s sufficient power to heat their homes, light their rooms and increasingly to charge their cars, than that Alberta meets some arbitrary emissions target set by the Trudeau Liberals.Such is the present imbalance between interruptible power sources and the dependable natural gas generation that Alberta needs, that Alberta needs to double the latter to ensure that a growing population never gets blacked out.Not to be alarmist, but people could die.And thus the parties go to their conference, Guilbeault with his uncompromising (and in Alberta’s case even uncomprehending) attitudes and the Smith team with…Let’s see what Smith has.A signature announcement on carbon capture.A major Alberta accomplishment in harnessing methane leaks which, methane being a far more intense greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is actually of far greater significance than stemming CO2 emissions.It stands as an impressive rebuke to Ottawa, whose own attempts to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets were sufficiently non-impressive to earn a rebuke from the federal auditor-general. Meanwhile, the Trudeau Liberals suffer the further political embarrassment of cancelling their abominable carbon tax in some parts of the country, but not in others.That was not well-played and they are suffering for it.But nothing Guilbeault has done, has been well-played. The minister seems to lack the important political gift of compromise. As a result, he pushes things too far, they end up in court and now Alberta has twice had its position validated, that under the constitution energy is a provincial matter, not the property of the federal government.It would be presumptuous to predict how things will go in Dubai for Smith and federal representatives. For one thing, with 70,000 people milling around, there’s no guarantee that our internal struggles will attract much attention. (Although unlike Smith, Minister Guilbeault has it within his power to change that; the Burj Khalifa is an impressive structure. He should take his gear, in case.)Nevertheless, Smith’s team has worked well with what they have and arguably control the narrative at this point. Should the incentives she plans to unveil actually attract the multi-billion dollar investments for which she is angling, COP28 will be a considerable milestone.Time will tell.For now all that solid preparation can accomplish, has been done. It has been in fact, a tour de force and the good wishes of many Albertans will go with the Alberta delegation.