|| That, given this time of economic uncertainty, the House: (a) recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy and support its development in an environmentally sustainable way; (b) agree that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil; (c) acknowledge the desire for the Energy East pipeline expressed by the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick; and (d) express its support for the Energy East pipeline currently under consideration.
She said: Mr. Speaker, thank you for reading that important motion. I will be sharing my time this morning with the member for .
I am very happy and proud not only to be able to stand and speak to this motion but to be part of the Conservative Party, the opposition that stands up for those in Alberta, stands up for those in western Canada, stands up for jobs right across this country. That is what this motion is meant to do, certainly to encourage the government to do the same thing. However, we as Conservatives want Albertans and Canadians to know that we will always stand up for their interests, will stand up for Canadian resources, and will stand up for Canadian oil. I am very happy to be able to speak to this.
We really had hoped, when we first put this motion together, that there would be a chance the Liberals might support it, and we would be very pleased if they would support it, not only with their vote but, even more importantly, with their actions. Sadly, yesterday, it became very clear that the government does not understand the importance of the energy sector to Canada's economic strength. The government does not understand that investment and confidence come directly when Canada has a government that is certain of it policy and when there is stability in its policy, which then translates into stability and predictability for sectors like oil and gas.
The government does not seem to understand that when it chooses to ignore the jobs and economic opportunity that come when Canadian energy has the same access to market that the energy of the United States and other countries has, the jobs and opportunities grow. The government's ideological opposition to the fundamental infrastructure that oil needs to access markets safely, frankly, is disturbing. Its ideology is putting Canada at an unfair disadvantage. Liberals are intent on undermining the National Energy Board and intent on putting roadblocks in the way of pipelines being built in the near future.
I wish there was better news today. I wish there was better news for Albertans. I wish there was better news for Canadians overall. However, sadly, the manner and the pattern that the government is showing is very worrisome. It is a pattern of disregard and what would appear to be undervaluing of the natural resources sector, specifically the oil and gas sector in Canada. The decisions Liberals are making and the actions they are undertaking are showing that undervaluing of the energy sector and the oil and gas industry in Canada.
Liberals are undervaluing the men and women who work to get our resources out of the ground and the men and women who work to get our resources to market. Those are both things that we can be very proud of in Canada. The men and women who are working in the oil patch in Canada can be proud because here in Canada we have the most sustainable, clean, responsible way of extracting natural resources, not only because of the strong regulations that our government put in place but because Canada is a country of freedom, of equality, where women's rights, gay rights, human rights, religious freedoms, and labour laws are strong and rigorous. That means that Canadian oil is taken out of the ground and exported in a way that all Canadians can be proud of; and on this side of the House we are immensely proud of that.
There is a worrisome pattern that has developed very shortly after the arrival of the new government. First of all, the made some comments in Davos that maybe were meant to be clever but really were very telling. He said we do not want to be known as a resource country but rather as a country of resourcefulness. At this point in time that is not the watered-down message that Canadians are looking for and not what the natural resource sector is looking for. That was worrisome.
Earlier on, even before that, right after the election, the government announced a moratorium on tanker traffic in northern B.C. The effect of that was a severe body blow to the northern gateway pipeline; again very disturbing. Recently, the government is refusing to stand up for energy east, refusing to make the statement that in principle it would support pipelines. It is worrisome, because Liberals are not afraid to stand up for other types of infrastructure or support other types of infrastructure in principle. However, for some reason, they have a very difficult time saying that pipelines are a good thing for Canadian oil.
Now, just yesterday, they announced another layer, another process, another roadblock in the form of additional approvals. This time it would appear that approvals would be by the ministers themselves.
The announcement they made was really very short. It was a two-pager background—well, it was really a page of background, not even two pages. We have a number of questions, to which we are hoping we can get answers, with respect to the announcement that was made yesterday. There was a bit of confusion as to whether the new assessments by Environment Canada would include upstream. We understand it will include upstream. However, there was confusion as to whether downstream would be included. There needs to be some clarity on that.
There was talk about a ministerial representative who would be part of this environmental assessment; so we understand the bureaucracy, the department, would be doing a parallel environmental assessment. However, there would be what appears to be political representation. There are some large concerns we have about that, and I would think industry would also have them. There are also concerns about what role the proponents would play in that assessment. Would they have any input? Would they be able to look at it, or would it be just a parallel process?
The government's saying it wants to provide certainty in a very uncertain time actually has caused more uncertainty and more questions.
Yesterday's announcement certainly did not give any kind of glimmer of hope, as we have termed it, for those in the oil and gas industry.
I think we should highlight the economic benefit that oil and gas brings to Canada.
Natural resources alone produce 20% of nominal GDP. That is the entire natural resources sector. About half of that comes directly from the energy sector, so about 10% comes directly from oil and gas. That is in comparison with about 6.7% GDP that comes from agriculture. My riding in southern Manitoba has strong agricultural producers. We understand agriculture's importance, and none of us shy away from defending it. We produce the best food in the world here in Canada. When we were in government, we were so proud to open up markets and support our agricultural sector, which is about 6.7 % of GDP.
Gas and oil is more than that. It is about 10%. We should be just as proud to say that we produce the best oil in the world in the most responsible way. We should be supporting oil and gas, just as we support agriculture. On this side of the House, proudly, we do. We stand up for the sectors both in the Prairies and in western Canada.
There are 1.8 million jobs in the natural resources sector, with about 300,000 in the energy sector, specifically. We know a lot of those jobs are in certain regions, such as Alberta, and New Brunswick would benefit greatly from energy east. They are looking for energy east to be built. The mayors, the municipal leaders, have spoken about how important it is. We know, economically, the jobs that are created right across the country.
Safety is something that has been talked about by the government. It has talked about how important it is to have public support and to have public confidence in the safety process. It almost seems that when it says there is public confidence, it has created its own narrative. It is a bit disturbing because the more the government says it, obviously, the more it is repeated.
However, the evidence actually is not there that there is some huge outcry that the public does not support pipelines. We know there are certain interest groups that do not support pipelines and never ever will support pipelines. In fact, many of them sit on the opposite side, on the government, where they said they do not think that natural resources should be extracted and there should be no more pipelines.
Let us talk about a reasonable, balanced approach and talk about pipeline safety.
First, let me just state this, to put it into perspective. We believe that all infrastructure projects should be developed in a responsible way. All infrastructure projects have assessments that they need to go through. Most infrastructure projects have to have some community involvement.
I live in Ottawa, as many of my colleagues do. The LRT is being built right now and there is a lot of noise going on, and the LRT folks are still consulting with the community to talk about the impact that the LRT is having on the people who live right downtown. However, nobody would say that, as a government, they are never going to support rapid transit because not all of the consultation has been done. That is ridiculous.
Of course governments support the idea of rapid transit, and of course governments should support the idea of pipelines and Canadian pipelines being built. Therefore, infrastructure requires a regulatory oversight, community involvement, and all of those important things.
For some reason, though, the Liberal government can support all kinds of infrastructure but it cannot support pipelines. We need to be on the same playing field as our U.S. partners. The U.S. is lifting exports. It is building pipelines. It is not talking about a carbon tax. We need to get behind oil in Canada. We need to get behind energy east and support the jobs that it creates and the economic opportunity.
Madam Speaker, today it is my pleasure to speak to a subject that means a lot to me and to support my colleague's motion. The motion is well written. It urges us to recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy. It is a fact that the energy sector accounts for over 10% of Canada's economy. Businesses in that sector create wealth in Canada, and we must support them.
The motion also states that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. Being from Quebec, I can assure my colleagues that Quebeckers agree, particularly since the worst tragedy involving transportation of oil by rail struck Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Quebeckers know that using pipelines to move oil is much safer. We have been doing it for years, and with safe, modern pipeline construction technology, it is entirely feasible to develop this economic sector while keeping the environment safe.
Our motion also states that a number of governments are in favour of safe pipeline projects that comply with Canadian laws, including the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Quebeckers also agree, despite the opinion of the mayor of Montreal, who indicated a few days ago that he opposes the project, before even hearing the National Energy Board's position and recommendations.
Since taking a stance, the mayor has made all kinds of comments. For instance, he said that Montreal, with its four million residents, has a larger population than Saskatchewan, with its 1.3 million residents, and therefore Montreal has the right to say no to such a pipeline project. It is ridiculous to take such a position, and I am very disappointed in the mayor of Montreal, since he does not represent the opinion of Quebeckers. I agree with many people in western Canada who are outraged by the position of the Montreal mayor and the , who went and added another approval process, one that is really just political. The process that was already in place adhered to all the rules and was independent. This government is trying to politicize part of the energy sector, something no one does with other methods of transportation, such as public transit. There are independent processes, and politics do not interfere with them.
Last week, I travelled to western Canada and stopped in Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg, and I took the opportunity to meet with people there. The topic of discussion was economic development in Canada. We talked about what can be done to build a strong economy. One important thing we talked about was developing pipelines in Canada.
We know that this government unfortunately wants to run a deficit of over $20 billion. That is the latest figure that we have. The government does not want to elaborate, but we are heading toward a $20 billion deficit. The government says it wants to stimulate the economy by borrowing money that we do not have. As things stand now, 10%, or 10¢ out of every dollar that Canadians pay in taxes, is used to pay the interest on the debt. That is equivalent to the entire budget for the . The government wants to run an even bigger deficit and add to the debt in order, in its view, to stimulate the economy. This will not stimulate the economy. It will sedate it.
We have the energy east pipeline project, in which the private sector is going to invest more than $15 billion. That is not Canadian taxpayers' money. It does not come from taxes paid by Canadians. It comes from the private sector. We know that wealth is created through private sector investment, not through government spending. The private sector is going to invest $15 billion to develop Canadian energy and gain access to other markets. Day after day, this government keeps standing in the developers' way. It is very disappointing, especially coming on the heels of an election campaign during which the government said it wanted to engage in consultations and adopt policies in favour of economic development.
I would also like to talk about the financial impact of these projects on the Canadian economy. Canadian municipalities collect more than $600 million in property taxes from pipeline companies.
Furthermore, these companies paid $1.1 billion in corporate taxes in 2014. They pay significant amounts in taxes to the Government of Canada, and they make more than $25 million in community investments.
The investment will help those who work in pipeline construction, people working in oil refineries in Montreal and New Brunswick, and also the people in the different communities.
Delays in project approval mean that Canada does not have access to a new market for its natural resources and could result in up to $70 million a day in lost economic activity.
What is the government waiting for to move forward and support my colleague's opposition motion in support of Canada's economic development?
The government might say that we have to protect the environment. I would like to say that our government, the former government, made legislative changes to protect the environment and develop natural resources responsibly.
We made changes to the National Energy Board's decision-making power so that it can make recommendations to the government about whether to approve or reject a project. Politicians will have the last word, and that is as it should be. That is important.
We also shortened the time frames for project approval. In the past, it could take up to four or five years for a project to be approved. Now, projects must be approved or rejected within 15 months. What is more, anyone who is interested in expressing their opinion on such projects can do so by submitting a brief, and that is what is now being done.
We therefore made sure that the Canadian public, Canadian and Quebec stakeholders, can submit briefs to the National Energy Board and are given the time they need to present their concerns.
We also revised the scope of the review so that it focuses on the project under review rather than on alarmist theories put forward by people who are advocating for a kind of development without having access to various resources. It is important to point that out.
In other words, the National Energy Board is completely independent and will make recommendations. The government should support this motion because Canadians and people in various provinces, particularly Quebec, want it.
Like other Canadian provinces, Quebec receives equalization payments, which come from the western provinces. I thank those people. I wish that Quebec and New Brunswick were rich and did not need equalization payments. However, in order for that to happen, we need to stimulate the economy. The construction of the energy east pipeline will support economic development and benefit every province of Canada.
We need to support this motion and let the industry know that, yes, we are in favour of sustainable economic development.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to join in the debate over the energy sector in our country, about regulation, about pipelines and to say in the first place that I was saddened that in both of the speeches from the official opposition, there was no reference at all to indigenous peoples and to the consultations with indigenous communities. I am sure we will have a chance to debate that omission later on, but for me, it was significant.
Our government does recognize the importance of the energy sector in Canada and to the Canadian economy, and we wholeheartedly support its development in an environmentally sustainable way. As the said earlier this week, we have a duty to ensure that there is a process by which pipeline proponents can demonstrate that their projects are in the public interest and can earn public support.
That is why I was pleased to announce, with the yesterday, our interim approach to guide decision-making on major resource projects already in the regulatory review process. The interim approach is a critical first step toward the more permanent and comprehensive solution we have promised for reviewing major resource projects in the future.
Before I talk about our government's vision for resource development, I think it is important to stop here and acknowledge the very difficult recent past with some of our country's leading energy producers. I do not have to tell anyone in this chamber that low oil prices, difficult decisions on capital spending, and even tougher decisions about personnel have taken their toll. Behind all the statistics of rigs silenced or projects deferred, are people, people in communities not only in western Canada, but right across the country, who have borne the brunt and face uncertainties. In Alberta alone, more than 63,000 jobs were lost in the first eight months of 2015, and that number is growing. This has rippled across the financial, retail, and service industries. These struggles are real. We understand them.
That is why we have put in place an interim approach to provide certainty around how the principles that will guide decision-making for major resource projects already under regulatory review. That is why we will modernize the National Energy Board. The faster we restore public confidence in the regulatory process, the sooner we will see broad-based support for the large-scale energy projects.
Our government believes there is every reason for Canadians to be optimistic about the long-term future of our energy sector. There is reason to believe that Canada can be both a major energy producer and a world leader in combatting climate change. There is every reason to believe that we can achieve a brighter future based on a clean environment and a strong economy going hand in hand, a future built on innovation and adapting to changing times, a future with greener ways to extract and develop our fossil fuels, a future with more ways to get our energy to market at home and abroad, a future that makes greater use of renewable sources of energy, a future where energy efficiency plays a more prominent role, and a future where we invest in clean technologies and green infrastructure, and a future where we engage Canadians on how to generate the energy we need while preserving the planet we cherish.
Our government is committed to doing both. Our government believes that we can remake our energy sector to be stronger and more sustainable than ever before, that we can make decisions and take actions that will reset the course of our economy and create opportunities for generations to come, and that we can engage in nation building by creating a visionary energy strategy that enables Canada to lead in the fight against climate change and truly position us as a global leader in a low carbon economy.
This commitment was made crystal clear yesterday when the and I jointly announced our government's interim approach as the first step toward restoring public trust in the way Canada reviews and assesses major resource projects. The minister outlined the interim principles that will guide the way forward.
No project will return to the starting line. Public input will be sought and considered. Additional information will be gathered for projects undergoing an environmental assessment, such as direct and upstream gas emissions associated with the projects. Environmental impacts will be understood and minimized, and decisions will be made based on science, facts, and evidence.
These interim measures are intended to ensure that environmental, economic, and community-based perspectives meaningfully inform government decision-making on major resource projects and better serve the public interest, because this is what is needed to instill public trust and restore Canada's international reputation. The has said, “Canada has to start demonstrating real action and not just words in order for the world to understand that we are serious and committed to developing our resources in a responsible and sustainable way”.
The issue is not whether to responsibly develop Canada's wealth of natural resources. There is no question that resource industries make vital contributions to our country. Developing our resources has traditionally been and remains a truly nation-building exercise.
Natural resources make up roughly 20% of our GDP. Whether we talk about oil and gas, potash and minerals, forestry, mining, or hydroelectric power, Canadians understand this. They recognize the importance of these industries to our communities and to Canada's economy. They also know that the livelihoods of thousands of families are dependent on the energy sector in particular, that it creates jobs and spurs investments that benefit all of us in Canada, and they want to see an end to the suffering in communities across the country hit hard by the downturn in commodity prices.
Canadians know too that there has to be fairness for indigenous peoples by fully engaging them in the environmental assessment process—not just because there is a constitutional duty to consult, which there is, but because there is a unique opportunity to share with indigenous communities the economic benefits of resource development in Canada. There is little disagreement about any of this. The problem is that Canadians have lost faith in the way Canada has been assessing major resource projects in recent years. Canadians realize that there cannot be a trade-off between energy development and environmental stewardship, because they know the two are linked. As I said yesterday, if we are to attract the investments we need to sustainably develop our energy resources, then we have to further engage Canadians, conduct deeper consultations with indigenous peoples, and base decisions on science, facts, and evidence. Without the full confidence of Canadians, none of these projects will move forward, and that is in no one's interests.
Canadians also know that we can take advantage of both energy development and environmental stewardship without sacrificing growth and prosperity, thanks in large measure to the ingenuity of industry leaders harnessing our technological innovations—and, may I say, particularly in the province of Alberta. However, they need renewed confidence in the way we evaluate major projects like pipelines. Voters made it abundantly clear during the recent election that they want their elected representatives to listen to Canadians, to consult with them, and build new processes that reflect their concerns and respond to their priorities. That is precisely what we intend to do.
We are going to do things differently to attract the necessary investments to sustainably develop our energy resources and build the infrastructure to move them to market. We are going to do the right thing so that Canadians can get behind important resource development projects. That is why we are committed to modernizing the National Energy Board, to provide the reassurance Canadians require as well as the predictability industry needs to ensure sustainable resource development.
I can assure the House that no proponent with a pipeline project undergoing an environmental review will have to go back to the starting line. We have laid down firm markers with the interim measures released yesterday, providing investors with confidence about the timelines that will govern their project decisions in the near and medium terms. In two cases, we believe that there is more work to be done so that the environmental assessment process aligns with the principles announced yesterday.
Let us look first at the proposed Trans Mountain expansion project from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. This project is already deep into the regulatory review process. In fact, closing arguments are being heard in Burnaby this week, and they will conclude next week in Calgary. The National Energy Board is then scheduled to deliver its recommendation report to the government in May.
Based on the five principles of our interim approach, the Government of Canada intends to carry out additional consultations with indigenous peoples and appoint a ministerial representative to meet with communities along the pipeline route so that their views can be taken fully into account. Participant funding will also be made available to indigenous peoples to support these consultations.
As the explained yesterday, we will also have an assessment of the project's direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions, which will also help inform our national climate change framework with provinces and territories.
To accomplish all of this, the government intends to seek an additional four months for the Government of Canada's legislative time limit to render a final decision. That would give us until December 2016 to decide whether the project is in the public interest. We think this is a fair and balanced solution, one that is rooted in these principles and that shows that Canada can deliver resource projects in a way that is consistent with the expectations of Canadians.
For the proposed energy east pipeline project, which would transport Alberta and Saskatchewan oil across the country as far as New Brunswick, we will again make reasonable adjustments to the review process to ensure their alignment with the principles.
As I said yesterday, our government intends to work more closely with indigenous peoples to build the kind of relationships that can serve as the basis for proper consultations. I also intend to appoint up to three new board members on a temporary basis to the National Energy Board to engage communities and indigenous communities along the proposed pipeline route.
Again, the Government of Canada will assess the direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions and impact on climate change associated with the energy east pipeline project.
To do all of this, I intend to seek an extension of six months to the legislative time limit for the National Energy Board to review the project and three months for the Government of Canada to make a final determination.
As I said yesterday, I am optimistic that with these measures we can begin to rebuild the public's trust while maintaining certainty for industry and ensuring a thorough process that is fair, transparent, and responsible.
This is a positive first step on our path to fully restore Canadians' confidence in our environmental assessment processes. The government looks forward to moving ahead expeditiously with the review of Canada's environmental processes, seeking early views from Canadians. My hope is that all hon. members will actively engage in this important effort.
Canadians want to see our country again playing a constructive role on the international stage, and acting sustainably here at home, tackling climate change, creating greener ways to extract and develop our fossil fuels, and leading on clean energy. They expect us to make decisions based on evidence. Canadians expect us to build the infrastructure that is essential to getting our energy to markets at home and around the world in a manner that fits within today's environmental imperatives.
Above all, Canadians want us to work together as governments, communities, and as people; together, because the challenges ahead of us are too big to tackle on our own; together, because that is how Canadians have always worked best; and together, because we can solve problems better and faster if we see each other as partners.
Our government is committed to making that happen.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to energy-related issues. When we talk about the energy sector, it is very important to talk about value-added production, something we have lost sight of for years now in Canada with regard to natural resource development.
We always want to take part in substantive debates in the House, and that is why I will be proposing an amendment to this motion at the end of my speech.
I think I am one of a few members of Parliament in the House who has actually been knee deep in oil. I used to be a worker at the Shellburn refinery in Burnaby, British Columbia. It is one of the refineries that has closed across the country.
I remember the first time we had a briefing from the safety supervisor. The safety supervisor said two things: to never, ever go into the tanks alone, to always go in with a partner. This was the tank farm adjacent to the Shellburn refinery. The second piece of strong advice, in fact a mandatory requirement to follow, was to alway check safety equipment before going into the tanks, ensuring oxygen tanks were full, the regulator was working, and the mask was not broken. Those are all important things.
The safety supervisor was putting so much emphasis on that because we had to respect oil as a substance and the impacts. The reality was, for any workers going into those tanks, if our safety equipment malfunctioned, we would be dead within seconds. We know when we look at the energy sector around the world that safety regulations have to be very carefully followed. We have to respect the substance, both for the economic potential and the danger it imposes if it is mishandled. Having those safety regulations in place is something about which we feel very strongly.
At the same time, when we are talking about energy projects, we need to ensure the process is credible. That is really the fundamental question we are talking about today. The question of how we evaluate major resource projects to ensure our environment is protected and companies are able to obtain social licence is absolutely critical. The hard reality is that after a decade of Conservative government, that ended last October thankfully, Canadians have simply lost faith in the federal environmental review process. At the same time, pipeline projects have not moved ahead.
It is the Conservative members right next to me, the very sponsors of this motion, who are responsible for that lack of action. Those are the Conservatives who, when in government, systematically dismantled laws protecting our air, land, and water, burying these attacks in budget bills, gutting the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, and the National Energy Board Act. We all remember these various modifications.
It was the Conservatives who placed arbitrary limits on public consultation, shutting Canadians out of the project review process. We were having National Energy Board hearings in my city of Burnaby, British Columbia where the large meeting hall was completely empty because the public was banned from participating in the process.
It was the Conservatives who actually injected more politics into the review process by giving cabinet the ability to overrule National Energy Board decisions. We have seen the impact of these changes with thousands of Canadians being denied the right to participate in pipeline reviews, growing public unrest, and mounting legal battles.
What is the result? In western Canada, where I come from, we have an expression. I was born and bred in British Columbia but my mother was born in Alberta. My brother lived in Manitoba for some time. Of course, as New Democrats, our spiritual home is Saskatchewan, with the first social democratic government in North America, under Tommy Douglas. That expression encompasses the approach of the Conservatives on energy, and that is, “All hat and no cattle”. What we have seen under the Conservatives, simply, despite their protestations to the contrary, is not a single kilometre of new pipeline constructed with the entire process taking place under the Conservatives. What we have seen is 28 court challenges to the National Energy Board or Governor in Council decisions in the last two years alone. Therefore, the Conservatives did create jobs in the energy sector and they were for lawyers.
I have no objection to that, but the reality is that when we look at the overall results, and I did listen carefully to my colleague from , who talked about a number of projects for which the process had already started before the Conservatives came to power, the one project approval they have tried to hang their hat on is a pipeline reversal, which is not new pipelines.
The Conservatives on energy have been all hat and no cattle. Instead of speeding up the pipeline review process, the changes the Conservatives brought in broke public trust and meant that the projects ultimately did not move ahead. There was no social licence. In fact, the Conservatives damaged the process so badly, and my colleague from spoke to this earlier, that the environment commissioner was forced to sound the alarm that companies' emergency plans are out of date, board oversight is full of holes, and the public does not have access to information about pipeline safety.
Perhaps most troubling, the commissioner found that the National Energy Board is not even verifying whether pipeline companies are living up to approval conditions. In the same way that safety has to be manifest and followed, such as the safety regulations at the refinery that I worked at, pipeline companies need to live up to their approval conditions.
This report comes five years after yet another damning audit that found many of the same problems. The Conservatives have left our pipeline review process in shambles, and thankfully, last October, Canadians clearly rejected their approach. That is why it is particularly inappropriate for the Conservatives today to try to use the House of Commons to get around the need for a credible, thorough, and open National Energy Board review process. They are the architects of the very problem we are discussing today.
Now, it is clear that Canadians voted for change on this issue. The Liberals on the campaign trail told Canadians that they thought the Conservatives' process was broken, and I agree with them. In fact, we have been saying it for a long time already. For the last decade, New Democrats were sounding the alarm that the Conservatives were dismantling our environmental laws, while the Liberals were standing by and letting those omnibus budget bills pass.
As we saw during the campaign, some of this could be about where they are getting their advice. Everyone will recall the incident involving a certain Dan Gagnier, Liberal Party campaign co-chair, trusted adviser to the , who also happened to be working for pipeline company TransCanada, advising them on how to lobby the incoming Liberal government. That certainly was not the high standard of ethical behaviour Canadians expect.
Nevertheless, by the time the campaign rolled around, even the Liberals were saying that the environmental review process was broken, so broken that it had to be redone. The came to my province, to Esquimalt, British Columbia, on August 20 of last year, and when asked if his National Energy Board overhaul would apply to Kinder Morgan, he said, “Yes, yes, it applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well”. He also said: “we're going to change the government and that process has to be redone”.
The government did change, but the rest of that sentence has not come true. This promise to British Columbians was repeated by the new Liberal member for and by the member for , who is the . He said that the Kinder Morgan process would have to satisfy a new, rigorous review, but instead, yesterday, the government rolled out a vague and ad hoc addition to the existing Conservative review process. It is just putting window dressing on top of what is a profoundly unstructured review process that does not lead to social licence.
Unfortunately, we just heard comments now from the , though he gave a good speech, saying that ultimately, what is going through is the former Conservative government's review process rather than the new review process the Liberals committed to British Columbians and all Canadians in the campaign.
It should also be said that yesterday's presentation was done so quickly that the documents were not even available in both official languages, which illustrates how hastily and poorly things were done.
The announcement yesterday does not change any laws. Reviews will go ahead under existing Conservative legislation.
This interim process will simply be layered on top of the Conservatives' broken process, and it comes with a whole host of unanswered questions.
How will this process determine what is an unacceptable climate impact?
How will the long-term GHG impacts of the products being transported be accounted for?
How does the government expect to fulfill its obligation to meaningfully consult first nations in such a short time frame?
What does the system look like, and what happens to the feedback and commentary from first nations?
Why is there no funding available for general public consultation?
What about projects that fall outside the current limited scope of any NEB reviews? How will they receive a meaningful examination?
How can this process possibly repair the damage the Conservatives have done when it does not address the gutting of the Navigable Waters Protection Act or the removal of fish habitat protection.
How can this be real change when cabinet can still, behind closed doors, overturn a “no” decision from the National Energy Board?
Canadians and industry deserve answers, and they deserve a government that lives up to the promises it made during the campaign for a truly new process.
I want to be clear. Demanding a robust, credible process means much more likelihood of leading, eventually, to a “yes”.
Canada's natural resources are a tremendous gift, and managed properly and sustainably, are important drivers of our economy. The energy sector employs millions of Canadians and contributes greatly to our national and regional economies. I know this personally, first hand.
We all agree that it is important to get Canadian resources to market. Properly managed, a west-east project could mean better prices for producers, improved energy security, and help creating the value-added jobs we need and the value-added jobs we have lost. However, we need to ensure that any potential project is evaluated in a way that protects the environment and builds public confidence that we are getting it right.
These conversations do not need to be divisive. Strong environmental assessments and meaningful community consultations are the bedrock of sustainable development. It is ultimately the responsibility of government to ensure that this conversation brings Canadians together around solutions. In this, the should be looking to the work that Alberta premier Rachel Notley has done: a game-changing climate change agreement bringing together environmentalists, industry, and first nations; a phase-out of coal pollution in plants by 2030; a GHG cap on oil sands emissions; and a ramp-up of investment in renewable energy, green infrastructure, and public transit.
This is a powerful example of what can happen when discussions are focused on solutions, not rhetoric. This motion, unfortunately, fails that test.
For New Democrats, the bottom line is this. We need a review process with integrity that brings credibility and public confidence to the examination of proposed projects.
That is why I would like to move the following amendment to the motion by the member for . It is seconded by my very distinguished colleague from : that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “New Brunswick; and” and substituting the following: “d) express its view that pipeline reviews must be credible, thorough, open, and free from political interference”.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
It is my pleasure to rise in the House today to debate the motion put forward by the Conservative Party on the issue of the energy sector and oil pipelines in Canada.
As this is my first speech in this Parliament, I would like to take a moment to thank the people of Chilliwack—Hope for once again placing their trust in me to serve them as their member of Parliament. As none of us would get here without the tireless work of our volunteers, I would like to thank the members of my amazing team in Chilliwack—Hope for their efforts over a very long and difficult campaign. Last but not least, I would like to thank my wife Lisa and my son Maclean for their love and support not just during the campaign but always.
Over the last number of months we have seen the devastating job numbers coming out of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Over 100,000 jobs were lost in the energy sector and related sectors alone. This is not just an Alberta issue, it is an issue affecting all Canadians. I want to share some insight into the effect this is having on my own riding and my hometown. I do not seek to compare the situation in my region with those more affected but want to show members that families are hurting right across the country.
I spoke to the House in the last Parliament about the benefits of the energy sector in Chilliwack. Even though we are 1,500 kilometres away from Fort McMurray and the heart of the oil patch, hundreds of local manufacturing jobs were created by businesses big and small. These are companies that are on the leading edge of innovation, efficiency, and productivity, which is why it was so disappointing to hear the insult the energy sector as not being resourceful when he was gallivanting around with anti-energy celebrities at a Swiss ski hill in Davos earlier this month.
Just a short time ago, Britco Structures, located in the nearby district of Kent, had over 200 employees building housing units that were going into the many work camps utilized by energy companies operating in remote locations in the oil patch. Many of their employees live in Chilliwack. These were family-supporting, well-paying, skilled labour positions. Today, Britco is down to a skeleton crew operating on work-sharing programs in order to ensure that as many employees as possible can try to make ends meet. Nearly an entire workforce has been wiped out by the crisis in the energy sector. They are hopeful that new contracts will be won and they can bring back some of those who have been laid off, but right now it is not a good situation.
Another local success story in my riding is TYCROP Manufacturing, which is a 35-year old product creation company that specializes in designing, engineering, and building mobile industrial equipment solutions. It is a resourceful company that relies in large part on the oil and gas sector.
I contacted one of the owners of TYCROP Manufacturing last night and he stated, “Rosedale TYCROP has laid off over 100 staff, or roughly $7 million in payroll affecting Chilliwack and surrounding areas, Hope, Abbotsford, and Langley. We estimate that in excess of another 100 jobs of equal value have been lost by contract supply partners to TYCROP with a similar payroll value. The impact is severe with no new orders in sight. I just checked my email and there were five new layoffs today alone. We could not carry these people any longer. There was nothing for them to do.”
Dozens of highly skilled jobs were lost at IMW Industries in Chilliwack as the market for their compressed natural gas products dried up.
Hundreds of family-supporting manufacturing jobs have been lost in my riding. However, it is not just highly skilled manufacturing jobs that have been affected.
At Christmastime I spoke with Gordon, the operator of the Slotcar Palace, an old-school toy store in Chilliwack, full of Lego, board games, model tanks, and airplanes, and all sorts of amazing things for the young and young at heart. I asked Gordon how it was going. Unprompted, he told me how the downturn in the oil patch, which is 1,500 kilometres away, was having a negative impact on his small business. Several of his best customers had been laid off and could no longer afford to buy Christmas presents. They had less, and now so did he, and he was worried about what that would mean for him in the short and long term. There are hundreds of stories like that across my riding, and tens of thousands of stories like that right across the country.
Canex Building Supplies, a major building supply operation in Chilliwack, reports receiving dozens of resumés from highly paid labourers returning to Chilliwack from Alberta who are desperate to get an entry-level job in its lumberyard.
I have heard similar stories from extended family members who are fortunately still employed in the oil and gas sector in Alberta: hundreds of applications for single job openings, with all of the applicants hopelessly overqualified; accounts receivables issues, with invoices worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more not being paid on time, if at all; a massive increase in the use of food banks; a massive increase in property crime.
These are desperate times, which is why it was so callous and outrageous to hear the Liberal from Calgary state in the House this week that the people of Alberta were feeling refreshed and excited. My family members in Alberta are not feeling refreshed. They are feeling anxious. They are worried, they are concerned, and they are looking for some sign of hope that it is going to get better.
That is where our support for environmentally sustainable economic development comes in. That is why our support for the energy sector is so critical. That is where our support in principle for safe, efficient energy infrastructure, like the energy east pipeline, comes in. Approving these projects would send a message of hope to the people who have lost their jobs, and those who worry they will, that there is a better future in the energy sector and that the situation is going to improve, that Canadians will finally start to get world price for the oil that we have been blessed with, that Canadian oil will be used in Canadian refineries, that the companies that are laying off workers will be able to survive and expand their workforces when market conditions improve.
Conservatives have always been clear: we will only support pipelines if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. When we were in government, we imposed hundreds of conditions on the pipeline projects that were approved. We demanded world-class marine spill response, world-class monitoring, world-class construction, and world-class standards. We did this by investing in world-class science. All independent analyses show that pipelines are the safest way to transport petrochemicals. That is a simple fact. If the new Liberal government actually believes in evidence-based policy making, then the Liberals should approve those pipeline projects that are shown to be safe and should drop their ideological opposition to the energy sector.
Every Canadian is supported either directly or indirectly by this sector. Energy products heat our homes, power our vehicles, and help us move goods and people across the country. The energy sector provides royalties and tax revenues that support our local hospitals and schools. It provides money for infrastructure. It should be valued, cherished, and nurtured not ridiculed, belittled, and berated, which is what the new current government has done to it in such a short time in office.
I want to say a bit about my friends, Jeff and Marcy. They live in Chilliwack, and Jeff works in the oil patch, leaving behind his wife and two kids for weeks at a time. It is a tough trade-off, but one that they have decided to make in order to get ahead financially. Because Jeff has been promoted to a senior position, he has not experienced the layoff that hundreds of his friends and co-workers have. However, he is worried that it could happen, and he told me what that would mean for his family. Marcy would have to go back to work, and could no longer home school their kids, which is what is best for them because of their son's health issues. Extras like the sports and music lessons would be gone. The financial security that they have sacrificed for would disappear. Jeff feels fortunate. While he worries, others are experiencing what he fears.
These are not statistics. These are our friends and neighbours, and the decision that the current government makes will have a real impact on their future.
Canadians know that we do not control the price of a barrel of oil. Those who have been laid off do not expect that by debating this issue in the House of Commons we can suddenly reverse this downward trend. However, what they do expect is that we will be on their side, that we will fight for them, and that we will do everything we can to support the energy industry and the energy infrastructure that supports their families. They need a government, like our previous Conservative government, that supports sustainable, responsible resource development.
Supporting this motion before us today signals our support for the energy sector. It shows Canadians who are hurting that we care and are working for them and for a future when they can return to work, continue to provide for their families, and continue to build this country.
Madam Speaker, as this is the first time I am standing to speak, I would like to thank the constituents of Calgary Shepard for their confidence and support. I also want to thank my wife, Evangeline, and all of my supporters for allowing me to speak on behalf of them in the House.
As I pondered that privilege, I thought of an old Yiddish proverb, “Speech is difficult, but silence is impossible”, and I cannot stay silent as I watch two levels of government raise taxes, start new carbon taxes, and add layers and layers of new regulatory red tape. The first duty of good government is to do no harm, and on that side of the House, I do not see that. The uncertainty, lack of clarity, and lack of a plan is harming the economy, but, most importantly, it is leading to job losses in my constituency, my city, and my province.
According to the last survey published by the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, across nearly every employment category, the leading cause of organizational departures right now is termination without cause. For the first time in two years, since this survey started, there are more people in Alberta being terminated without cause than for any other reason, and who are moving on for better opportunity elsewhere. That tells us where the economy is going, and it has gotten worse since the provincial and federal elections. That speaks volumes to the confidence that companies, entrepreneurs, businesses, and people are placing in that side of the House.
The survey also found that 38% of Albertans are receiving severance packages that, on average, last four months. Families in Alberta do not have time for a reset of the regulatory system. They do not have time to wait for energy east and other pipeline projects to be approved. They need jobs now. They need the private sector to regain its confidence now.
The mentioned earlier that a minimum of nine months would be added to the environmental assessment process. If we think about people losing their jobs today and their severance running out in four months, it means they are going to be eating into their retirement savings, taking on more debt, or moving to another province or country where there are jobs waiting for them. They need work now, and that is why energy east is so important. There is an easy way to get many Canadians back to work and it is to ensure that energy east is approved.
The total value of the project and its associated natural gas components is $20 billion. Over the nine-year development, it will create over 14,000 well-paying, highly technical jobs, and will sustain over 3,000 full-time direct and indirect jobs during its operation. The income that work creates will allow families to raise their kids, send them to after-school activities, and save for retirement. That is why it is valuable; that is why it matters.
Over the past few weeks, before I came to Ottawa, I was speaking with my constituents every single day. Many constituents told me their stories. Every single one of them was unemployed, and I want to share the stories of just a few of them.
Michael, a Canadian of Polish heritage like me, a mechanical engineer, moved to Alberta and sought retraining. He retrained as a petroleum engineer. He has been out of work now for 10 months. His choices are simple: take early retirement and become inactive or move again somewhere else. His job is directly connected to the fate of this pipeline and Canada's ability to build national energy infrastructure.
Another constituent of mine, Susan, is a geoscientist and lost her job recently. Her choices are to move to Sierra Leone or Burkina Faso for employment. Those are the only two places where jobs are available to her. She is not alone. Many of her work colleagues and friends are in exactly the same position. She does not want to leave Alberta, but she is finding that she has no choice. Those are the choices people are making. Their family members have a choice, too: do they follow them or stay in Alberta and take a risk? That is the gamble they have to take. Do they gamble on the current federal government, seemingly intent on sabotaging their future, or leave for work outside of Canada, potentially never to return? We will lose the skill sets and the tax dollars, but, most importantly, we will lose a generation of highly trained professionals who took us a generation to train.
Every year we graduate another cohort of highly trained engineers, geoscientists, petroleum accountants, and on it goes, who have little prospects for employment right now in their home province. Their slice of the Alberta advantage, their chance at realizing their dreams and fulfilling their hopes, may not happen in Alberta. Until very recently, we had immense problems with shortages of the highly skilled workers required for energy development and the construction of energy infrastructure, like pipelines. Supporting energy infrastructure is not about supporting an industry or a sector. It is about supporting Canadian families who work hard to earn a living and raise their families with that income from coast to coast to coast.
The government is creating a negative investment climate because when energy prices do rebound, it will undermine the recovery of the energy sector and the employment it brings. The completion of the energy east project might be put into question just like the Mackenzie gas pipeline was before.
The government's announcement yesterday also added to the uncertainty, to the chance that a consultation might go sideways, or that a court injunction grinds everything to a halt. Why do we want pipelines built? It is because not only are they the safest way to move oil and gas, but primarily because they create jobs for the families that depend on them and the prosperity that results, as well as the quality of life they provide.
A witness at a natural resources committee in the 41st Parliament, the second session, said “We have fresh water, we have a large community centre for recreation, we have large outdoor recreation facilities, we have all kinds of ball diamonds and soccer fields for families”. Those are dollars going back to communities. Those dollars are building communities, building families and allowing them to stay in those communities, perhaps for retirement. That is why it matters.
Do we want a shovel-ready infrastructure project? I hear that so often from members on that side of the House when they talk about what this new infrastructure money will be spent on. It is energy east. It is a shovel-ready project. It is also every other high-flying project that has been proposed, designed by people who care about the quality of their work. They take pride in their craftsmanship. They take pride in the craftsmanship of their trade. They know that energy and the environment are two sides of the same coin.
A study of energy transportation safety by the Senate found that between 2000 and 2011, 99.9996% of the crude oil and petroleum that moved through pipelines did so without spilling. In cases where it did spill, where there was an accident for whatever reason, the pipeline simply stopped pumping whatever material was going through it. That is pride in craftsmanship. That is pride in one's trade. That is pride in one's profession. Debating the pipeline route is fine, but not the technology. It is a proven piece of technology used around the world. We have some of the best people in Alberta, in Canada, who know how to build them safely and responsibly.
Canada has a network of pipelines that extends over 115,000 kilometres and moves roughly 3.2 million barrels of oil and 14.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas every single day. We all depend on it. If we had to move this product by truck it would mean more than 15,000 additional long distance truck trips every single day on Canada's highways and through our communities, with extra emissions, road maintenance, public safety and, of course, the potential for road accidents.
The new regulatory timelines announced by the minister yesterday made me think of another great infrastructure project at the dawn of our Confederation, the Trans-Continental Railway, the Canadian Pacific line to the west coast. Back then it was called a national imperative. Energy east and similar pipelines in the 21st century are our national energy imperative. I am also glad that the rail line was completed over 100 years ago, because today it would be tied up in red tape tighter than a Christmas gift under the tree with its own climate audit in the stockings.
When the announced yesterday a new and longer regulatory process, he committed not to force projects back to square one. Good for him. What he did not say was that he added an extra 200 squares to the finish line so companies will now have to go even further to get the projects done, to get their jobs going.
Pipelines by themselves do nothing, like a highway without cars or trucks, a seaway with docks and ports but no ships. Pipelines ensure that jobs are created at the very point where the product is produced, in extraction and production. It is the most economical way. It secures the jobs. As a starting point, each well involves $13 million of direct investment, and 40 to 50 jobs. The oil and gas sector creates hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. We need these. These are the highways for the product to keep moving.
This is not about corporate greed. This is not about profit. This is about creating wealth and ensuring our share of prosperity. The residents of Calgary Shepard want to get back to work. They have lived next to pipelines for decades without any issues. They do not feel refreshed like the member for said earlier in the House. They are worried and concerned and I am too. I support the project because I support the jobs it would create for Canadian families and because it requires zero tax dollars to build.
I urge members on the other side of the House to join me in voting for this motion, join the member for as well, and vote yes to the motion. It is important for Canada. It is our national energy imperative.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I welcome this opportunity to speak to a motion put forward by the hon. member for . The motion is timely. It comes during a week when the clearly outlined the government's role in looking out for Canada's best interests during pipeline reviews rather than acting as a cheerleader.
The motion comes a day after the and I announced an interim approach and specific measures to immediately strengthen environmental assessments in advance of a review of environmental assessment processes.
I am certain that MPs would like to know how we reached this point. First, I will provide some context.
The federal system for project reviews, including energy projects and pipelines, includes environmental assessments, consultation of aboriginal groups and decisions on issuance of permits.
This system is important for protecting the environment and the safety of Canadians. Meaningful consultations with indigenous peoples are essential. The process must consider the views and concerns expressed by Canadians and affected communities. Achieving these objectives is important for the economy and the environment.
In 2012, omnibus budget legislation, Bill and Bill , significantly changed the system for project reviews by replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with CEAA 2012, amending the National Energy Board Act and Fisheries Act, and amending and renaming the Navigation Protection Act. For such important legislation, Parliament did not spend long examining the bills: three months for the first bill and two months for the second one. This motion speaks to important issues that have been affected by the changes made in 2012.
We know that natural resources projects play a vital role in our economy and we recognize how important job creation and economic growth are to Canadians. We believe that it is important and essential to rebuild Canadians' trust in our environmental assessment processes. That is the only way to get resources to market responsibly in the 21st century.
The fact that the and the are working together on this sends an important message. It indicates that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.
We know that natural resources projects play a vital role in our economy and that they create jobs for Canadians and grow our economy. We also know that in 2016, projects will only get done if they are done sustainably and responsibly. We believe it is important and essential to rebuild Canadians' trust in our environmental assessment processes. We need to take into account the views and concerns of Canadians, respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples, and support our natural resources sector. That is the only way to get resources to market responsibly in the 21st century.
Yesterday, we made the first steps toward that goal. The principles we announced will allow the government to make better evidence-based decisions on major projects. These principles will apply to projects currently undergoing a federal environmental assessment until legislated changes can be implemented.
The principles that we announced yesterday will allow the government to make better evidence-based decisions on major projects. These principles will apply to projects currently undergoing a federal environmental assessment until legislated changes can be implemented.
The principles are clear. They were part of our platform last fall. Canadians gave us a clear mandate to implement them. Yesterday, we delivered on that mandate. Our goal is to restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction while also working with provinces and territories to avoid duplication. Our goal is also to ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence and serve the public's interests. They are also to provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate; and they will require project advocates to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts.
With these goals in mind, we will be engaging Canadians through an open, inclusive, and respectful review of environmental processes. However a review will take time. Any proposals for legislative change arising out of the review will have to be carefully considered by Parliament. This raises the question of what to do with projects currently undergoing environmental assessments.
Yesterday, we announced the interim approach, including clear principles that the government will follow to make better decisions on major projects. These principles are based on the fact that protecting the environment and growing the economy are not incompatible goals. In fact, our future success depends on us doing both of those things.
The principles are clear. They were part of our platform last fall. Canadians gave us a clear mandate to implement them. Our interim principles are, first, no project review will return to square one; second, decisions will be based on science and evidence, including information on climate change and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples; third, decisions will be informed by consultation and input from Canadians, including indigenous peoples and affected communities.
Consultation is, and will continue to be, a driving force of our government in how we approach environmental assessments. As the has said, there is no relationship more important to our government than the one with indigenous peoples. It is time for a renewed nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
The principles underscore our commitment to work in partnership with indigenous people and to ensure that their rights and interests are respected. Greenhouse gas emissions must also be taken into account in decision-making. Addressing climate change is a key priority for the Government of Canada.
Gathering evidence and facts on greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of sources, including environmental assessment, will further help inform our national climate change plan. At the same time, the private sector has a role to play as a source of dynamic innovation for greener and cleaner technology and practices. Environmental assessments can help promote this innovation. After all, the goal of environmental assessments is to improve the way projects are designed, built, and operated.
I want to emphasize that the interim approach released yesterday and our commitment to review environmental assessment processes are actions that I believe will help restore public trust in environmental assessment processes and the decisions that result.
Canadians voted for a government that understands that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. Yesterday, we gave business people the certainty they need to plan and build and grow, and we provided Canadians with the reassurance they want that their environment will be protected.
In 2016, that is the responsible thing to do and the only way we will ensure both our collective prosperity and our future. I am very pleased to read some reviews of yesterday's announcement of interim principles. Adam Scott of Environmental Defence said that to have all of the material in hand when making the decision will make for a better and higher-quality, informed decision.
Shannon Phillips, Alberta environment minister, said that she and I have had ongoing conversations about our role with respect to climate leadership; the importance of access to tidewater. She said we have in our initial meeting talked about environmental assessment processes, and so there have been conversations along the way. She said the federal government works productively and collaboratively with them, and they appreciate that respectful relationship.
Mark Cooper, TransCanada spokesman, said:
|| We support a strong and clear regulatory framework that helps Canadians see our commitment to building and operating oil and gas pipelines in the safest and most environmentally sound way possible.
Mr. Speaker, the energy sector is essential to Canada's prosperity. We know that a pipeline is a safe and effective way to transport key resources from one coast to another. The federal government is being frank and honest with Canadians about the challenges posed by the 21st-century economy. This is a process that brings together effective environmental assessments and a long-term vision for our prosperity.
This vision for the energy sector requires that the provinces and territories and aboriginal communities work together. Gone are the days of divisiveness over energy and pipelines.
After a decade during which the former government put ideology ahead of job creation, we will make decisions based on job creation, prosperity, and a sustainable future. Today's leadership will help create economic opportunities.
Our world has been through a significant transformation. With the advent of information technology, access to information is becoming the norm. Canadians demand transparency in how the government is run. Canadians demand a government that is committed to addressing the problems that have a significant impact on our daily lives.
We will keep our promise to include communities, environmental agencies, and aboriginal peoples in a dialogue addressing our needs for a sustainable, secure economy.
This is about leaving a legacy to future generations. This is about a commitment to our country and future generations, who will not make the distinction between innovation and natural resource conservation. They will look at our decisions as the first critical steps to a greener, more prosperous future where Canadian businesses are leaders in designing and producing green technologies used the world over.
That future was completely sidelined by the Conservatives over the past decade. They did not tap into the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the green technology and natural resource extraction sectors. How many potential jobs were sacrificed for the sake of their ideology?
As far as our NDP colleagues are concerned, the vision they are offering our constituents depends on the language they are using in their speeches. The hon. member for supported energy east in Alberta, but last year when he was in Quebec, he said he opposed the project. What changed? Was it the language, the region, or his policy? His personal politics certainly changed.
The energy sector is very important to Canada's future prosperity. We cannot sacrifice our country's future on the altar of ideology and political games. Canadians expect us to make decisions based on fact and to listen to them. If their perspectives are excluded from studies of major projects that will have an impact on us all, they will know.
That is where we are coming from. That is why we believe that pipeline proponents are responsible for showing that they have considered all of the risks their projects entail. Only once they have done that will they be allowed to go ahead with their projects. It is easy to see that our country has been hit hard by falling oil prices, tough investment decisions, and even tougher decisions to lay workers off.
Behind the statistics and the postponed projects are individuals, people all over the country. People in communities, not just in western Canada but across the country, are coping with difficult economic conditions and facing an uncertain future.
Quebec lost a lot of jobs during the first six months of 2015, and that had an impact on the financial, service, and retail sectors. These struggles are real, and there is no magic solution. However, there are a lot of positive steps we can take.
That is why our government is focusing on support for the rapid development of green technology and investments in green infrastructure in order to ease the burden on those who have been affected by job losses in the energy sector. That is why we have put forward a process to restore people's trust when it comes to the principles that will guide decision-making on major resource-based projects that are already being assessed. That is why we are modernizing the National Energy Board. Restoring trust in the regulatory system will increase general support for large-scale energy projects. The government believes that Canadians should be optimistic about the long-term future of the energy sector.
The energy sector is becoming increasingly important in Canada and Quebec, but this prosperity means that we need an effective environmental management regime for the future. At the same time, investments in green infrastructure are key to our collective prosperity. We need to ensure that Canada is a leader in the necessary process of transitioning our economy to a green economy. Future generations need us to do so. We cannot and we must not disappoint them.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be on my feet again. It seems to be happening quite a lot as a representative from Alberta to have to protect the interests of the people of my province from the transgressions of the current Liberal government. I am happy to split my time with the hon. member for , giving me about 10 minutes on this.
I am not going to take the normal tack that has been taken by some of my colleagues here today. I was a member of the natural resources committee for a number of years in the last Parliament. I am very proud to talk about these issues as they pertain to my province.
One of the most interesting witnesses we ever had in front of the natural resources committee was a professor. His name was Pierre Desrochers, University of Toronto. He came with quite an unorthodox deck that he gave to us at that meeting. He gave a very historical, appreciated, and informative recap of the value that fossil fuels have played in the earth's development.
Just imagine going back a couple hundred years, what life must have been like. We do not talk about these things here, but the average lifespan for somebody in the 1800s was about 30 years of age. The average man was about 5.5 feet tall, about 145 pounds. They often died from things like disease or working so hard, subsistence living.
There was no quality of life, other than just basically working from sun up to sun down to provide for the necessities of life. We did not have advanced scholars; we did not have advanced medical facilities; we did not have teachers or doctors; we did not have any of these kinds of professions, because we were basically just eking out a living.
What did that do to our environment? The Liberals are opposed to these pipelines because they are claiming that this is bad for the environment. What was it like for the environment when people were living a subsistence living? People would basically try to grow food or earn a living off every square inch of the earth's surface that they could. That meant all sorts of marginal land, along the edges of cliffs, lakeshores, and oceans. It would all be used to try to grow food.
Forests would be cut down. Vast tracts of forest were cut down to burn wood for fuel, for cooking, or heating, or whatever else was necessary at that time.
He gave us some maps. If we go back and take a look at what these things looked like, there was less forest in 1920 in the United States than there is today. Actually because of the advancement of fossil fuels and the use of fossil fuels for things like transportation and heating, we live a much cleaner, much healthier, much more environmentally sustainable life than we could have ever imagined. We now live well into our 80s. Our size, our nourishment, the amount of technology from fossil fuels, has grown, including the fuel that goes into the input of agriculture. This is not just the input of driving the tractor, but the actual inputs like the creation of fertilizer that we can apply to our crops to grow far more food than we ever had.
That is not the biggest thing. The biggest thing is the advancement in transportation, Mr. Desrochers said. People used to only be able to eat food that could be grown within their local communities. While that sounds like a romantic idea, and there are lots of people pushing that agenda from all corners of this House at certain times, the reality is that if there was a bad crop or a bad year on the farm when people were living a subsistence living, they were in danger of dying.
This was not all that long ago. Imagine what it was like 200 years ago to move a ton of grain 50 kilometres when all they had was a couple of horses. Imagine how much grain would be needed to feed that horse just to move that grain.
In the late 1800s, I believe it was 1898, in New York City, regional municipal planners got together for their first-ever meeting. The issue of the day was not about where they would build sewer lines or pipelines or water lines or anything like that, it was what they were going to do with horse manure. That was their transportation mode.
Enter fossil fuels. We have coal now that we can burn in ships. We are not relying on the trade winds or sailing ships to trade. We can move food anywhere we want in the world, anytime we want. When one region of the world has a drought, another region of the world has tremendous crop successes. We see this now. We take it for granted. We have forgotten how this actually happens. Now we can transfer food from Australia to Southeast Asia. We can transfer food from North America to China. We can transfer food from Africa to Europe, or from Europe to Africa for that matter, in the form of aid.
Where would the planet be right now if we could not actually airlift or move food quickly, by ship or cargo planes or whatever the case might be, with the technological advances of the petrochemical industry?
I do not know if anybody has been in a cockpit of an airplane lately, but it is not made out of wood. Where would we be without the advancements in fossil fuels?
These are the things that we have so much taken for granted and forgotten, as we have these debates about what is a social licence. I know where I can apply for my driver's licence. I know where I can apply for my fishing licence. If I am lucky, I might even be able to get a marriage licence. However, I do not know anywhere we can apply for a social licence. This is just a manufactured term, trying to create an agenda on one side of the issue to stop something that makes complete sense; to stop the industry and to stop things that improve our quality of life.
God forbid that we did not have fossil fuels in our lives. Where would we be? What would we be able to do? Nothing. There would not be politicians in this room debating it, because we would be out scratching a living off rocks.
I do not know of any other fuel or any other technology right now that allows us to do long-range transportation. Is there anything else that we could put in an airplane to make it fly? Are they going to put a battery-operated commercial airline in the air and get on it and go over the Pacific? I am not doing that. I am pretty happy with that airplane burning carbon fuels to get me across the ocean. That is absolutely fantastic. That is a modern advancement.
Did members know that the air quality in Toronto 100 years ago was worse than the air quality in Beijing today? Most Canadians do not know that. It is true. What were they burning 100 years ago to heat their homes in Toronto? It was some of the dirtier carbon of the day. They were burning wood and coal.
These are the things, as we have advanced through our society, burning garbage or whatever waste they could, that we have advanced from over time. Right now China is going through the same thing. This is just industrial revolution all over again. It is just happening at different times in different countries around the world. China will advance. Certain countries are so advanced over Canada. Here we are in Canada, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and other countries that are still in or just coming out of third world status have better communications systems than we do. They got to skip the whole part where we dug our lines and buried them in the ground. They went right to radio telecommunications and satellite communications in their country, on cellphones not made out of wood.
I have nothing against wood. I have nothing against our other natural resources. I even prefer wooden hockey sticks, but that is a different issue altogether.
My point is that fossil fuels have done more to make us wealthier and healthier. The wealthier we are, the healthier we are. In a country where people are living under the poverty line, where the per capita GDP is less than $5,000 per year, are those people living as long as we are? Are they as healthy as we are? Can they afford the same quality of food as we can afford? Absolutely not.
The fossil fuel sector creates wealth. Wealth creates health. Not only do we live longer because we can have better food and all the other things that go along with that, but we have freed up a massive amount of our population to move to our urban areas to pursue education, to study, and to create a powerful centre of innovation and technology so we can have advancements. We can solve our problems with technological improvements.
We do not need to politicize something that is so uncontroversial. Saying they want to go through their day without fossil fuels is like saying they can get by without eating bread. It does not make any sense. They would never say that. Why would they say they could get through their day without using a bit of carbon or using some fossil fuels from time to time?
Those happiest about the advancement of fossil fuels were the whales. Let me explain. Prior to the invention or refinement of kerosene, the major source of oil in the world was whale oil. I am listening to the Liberal Party blubber on and on about these environmental issues when the advancement of the fossil fuel industry actually probably saved the whales on the planet. I thank Shell. I thank Nexon. I thank all those companies for the great environmental work that they do.
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour for me to rise in the House to speak on any important matter of debate, and this is such an important matter. Ironically, we are a few months away from the 60th anniversary of a similar debate on pipelines that rocked the House at the time and led to an election and a change in government.
Ironically at the time, it was the Liberal Party that was advocating for a pipeline to be built across Canada and it was Prime Minister Diefenbaker who was looking at options on whether it could go through the United States or how that government would proceed. However, I think everyone involved knew the importance of that project to Canada and its economy. It was the way it was being implemented in the nation's interest.
We are back here today because my hon. colleague, the natural resources critic of the official opposition, brought this debate to the House. In debates like this I also think of a quote that a mentor of mine once related to me. I have not been able to find the attribution, but one of my political mentors when I was living in Nova Scotia was the late Henry David MacKeen, who was very close to Robert Stanfield, the leader of the official opposition and Conservative leader in Ottawa. Stanfield once said that it is far easier to unite one part of Canada against another part of Canada than it is to unite all of Canada. Sadly, we are having this debate today because our new seems to have forgotten that point and the role of the nation's leader in guiding our economy.
The speaks regularly about diversity, which I like him doing. Diversity is our strength, but diversity is more than just our peoples. It is our geography and our economy. Those three things are linked, because it is the geography of regions, whether it is Atlantic Canada with our fishery or western Canada with our resources, that the people of those regions and all of Canada benefit from the economy involved. That is the diversity of our country, the second largest in the world. That needs to be the focus of the Prime Minister of Canada, not pitting one region or industry or sector against another, because by doing that we are dividing Canadians.
Our economy is diverse. We sometimes hear voices in the media suggesting that we are only an oil and gas exporter, that that is all the previous government focused on. People who say that have no clear understanding of our economy. The resource economy is very important to Canada, but it represents about 8% of our GDP and not all of it concentrated in a few provinces. Petrolia, Ontario was where oil was first produced in Canada. It is no longer produced there, but almost $1 billion in manufacturing jobs in southern Ontario are attributable to the resource sector in western Canada. There are as many manufacturing jobs in southern Ontario attributable to the resource sector as to auto assembly. The success of that region and part of our economy benefits all.
Canada receives $17 billion through all levels of government as a result of the resource industry. This diversity is what has helped us weather the global recession of 2008-09 better than any of our main allies. It was that economy that helped as Ontario, Quebec, and other provinces' economies slowed. Now the Canadian way would be to embrace the diversity of that economy, and as resource prices are depressed, hopefully other aspects of our economy from high-tech, to manufacturing, to agriculture, to fisheries, can help take up some of the slack. That is what a family does. That is what a confederation does. We cannot pit one industry or one sector of our economy against the other, because that pits Canadians against each other.
The resource industry is much more than just the trees, the minerals, or the oil and gas. We have innovated in this sector probably better than any other country. From exploration, to extraction, to processing, these are high-tech knowledge-based jobs that help us also mitigate environmental damage. Millions of dollars is being spent on that.
For a number of years I had the pleasure of working in Toronto in the so-called Bay Street area. The Toronto Stock Exchange and Bay Street would not exist in the form they do today were it not for our resource sector. In fact, our exchange remains one of the best places to raise capital for mining exploration in the world. That is what put us on the map.
There are a lot of Liberal MPs from Toronto. If we were to look at the office towers in Toronto, those jobs would not be there if we were not a global centre for mining finance. The capital markets and banks that have fed off of that for generations have now placed us as one of the best and strongest G7 economies in the world. There are jobs in every part of this country and resources coming to all levels of government because of the resource sector. To demonize that sector or pit it against another is an abdication of leadership.
In the last year, both before and after his election, the made comments that make it appear to many that he plays favourites among the sectors. Because sectors, geography and our people are so closely linked, picking favourites pits one part of the country against another. We saw this when he said that parts of Ontario need to move past their manufacturing heritage. The auto industry in Canada grew up from Oshawa, a part of which I have the honour of representing. There are still thousands of jobs in the auto assembly and auto parts industries in my area and tens of thousands in southern Ontario that we cannot move past. The should be asking how we can secure and expand these employment opportunities. Not every community across the country can pop up a BlackBerry or an OpenText or a Hootsuite. Those are tremendous innovators. However, one should not pick those innovators over our resource sector, not as the .
In case the does not know, we are resourceful now. However, he said in Davos that resources were in our past, as if the Canadian innovations in the in situ work in mining, oil, and gas were not an example of resourcefulness, as if mitigating the water use in the oil sands was not resourceful, and as if raising capital for mining operations or exploration around the world was not resourceful or meaningful. The role of the should not be to pick favourites. He should be a champion for all.
I worry about the tone he is setting, even in his early days as the of Canada, which is one that other levels of government are following. The mayor of Montreal, his former parliamentary colleague, appears to think that it is okay, when he knows full well the opportunity that energy east holds for New Brunswick and western Canada, and that the National Energy Board is seized with that matter to ensure that energy east is in the national interest, alongside environmental, aboriginal, and community concerns, which, writ large, have developed into the concept of social licence. The has set a tone that is allowing division to start in our country.
The of Canada should not be a traffic cop for other levels of government but a dispassionate referee, when there are tens of thousands of jobs on the line and we, 60 years later in the House, are having another debate on pipelines and how they are in our nation's interest.
I will end with a quote from 2014 with respect to energy east by Frank McKenna, a tremendous Canadian and prominent Liberal leader, who said:
|| Our country has always had its regional differences, and the Energy East pipeline is not going to change that by itself. That said, following the National Energy Board’s due diligence and further input from various parties (including First Nations and environmental organizations), I would hope that one thing becomes abundantly clear. The Energy East project represents one of those rare opportunities to bring all provinces and regions of this country together to support a project that will benefit us all, and that is truly in the national interest.
Mr. Speaker, as the noted recently in answering a journalist's question, a less aggressive approach on environmental responsibility in the past led to a ramping up of rhetoric against Canadian oil and against Canadian energy. This is the Conservative legacy for the energy industry.
If we do not convince Canadians and people the world over that we take the environment seriously, it will remain difficult, if not impossible, to get our resources to world markets.
It does not have to be this way, as the ministers of Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada underlined yesterday in our interim approach to assessing and reviewing major resources projects. The five interim principles they announced would enable energy and pipeline companies to demonstrate that their projects were in the public interest and deserving of the approval of Canadians. This open and collaborative approach is about real change and prosperity for the energy industry.
The steps we are taking would also help to regain the public's confidence that we can achieve prosperity and protect the environment without compromising either one.
We have pledged to Canadians that we would set a higher bar for openness and transparency, to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. We will deliver. In the same way, we will be transparent and work collaboratively with other sectors, including the energy industry, to provide proponents with the clarity and certainty they need to plan and implement projects.
In short, in addressing national projects like energy pipelines, we will behave in a positive and productive way that contributes to the economy, a secure environment, to bringing people together, and to creating a better future for the generations that follow us.
Our plan for pipelines is not based on pipe dreams, and it does not involve unnecessary meddling in the marketplace. Our government recognizes it has a fundamental role to play in opening up markets abroad for Canadian resources and to help create responsible and sustainable ways to get those resources to those markets. The best way we can do that is to create fair and transparent processes so industry can create economic growth and protect the environment to sustain the high quality of life of Canadians.
Does that mean we are willing to maintain the status quo, as the opposition motion recommends we do? Clearly not. We need to put an end to the mistrust and suspicion that currently surrounds discussions about pipelines in our country by those playing politics and putting ideology over industry and the public's interest. When the Conservatives shut down real dialogue for over a decade, it is understandable that trust is lost, and trust is a vital resource for effective government. We will protect the public trust.
Let me be clear. No proponent with a pipeline project already undergoing an environmental review will have to go back to the starting line. Rather, project proponents and their investors will have greater clarity about timelines and certainly about what is expected of them in reaching a final decision, thanks to these reasonable and balanced changes.
This government trusts the ingenuity of energy producers and shippers to come up with sustainable solutions. The energy sector has decades of experience in fact in developing technological innovations to extract the value of these resources. We acknowledge the industry continues to lead in reducing its environmental footprint. By devoting more brain power and ingenuity to resource extraction and shipping, the energy industry can and will be more environmentally sustainable.
However, even this progress toward sustainability will not satisfy the concerns of Canadians without the assurance that the regulatory review process is robust. That is why we have announced five interim principles that will support the energy sector's drive to sustainably develop energy resources and ship them responsibly to tidewater.
We will show Canadians, and the world community, that we are making decisions about project approvals based on science, facts, and evidence. We are taking into account the views of all Canadians and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples. We are determined to better understand and minimize environmental impacts. We will ensure that resource development decisions and actions are central to our government's commitment on climate change.
Protecting the environment and growing the economy are not incompatible goals. A clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.
I am confident that by working in partnership with all parties with a stake in responsible pipeline development we will demonstrate that Canada is a global leader in sustainable energy and shipment.
We will restore the public trust. Public trust is essential to public backing of these projects.
Mr. Speaker, first, I congratulate the nominees who sit in this chair, and I am sure the constituents of are very proud of the hard and diligent work you do, not only for your constituents but for Canadians.
I am proud to stand today to speak about our government's economic agenda.
This is a difficult period for the Canadian economy. China has slowed down dramatically, and commodity prices have dropped globally. The Bank of Canada has adjusted its economic forecast and has cut interest rates twice over the last 12 months. Now, more than ever, is the time for our government to look toward long-term growth, growth that will provide good jobs for Canada's middle class, the lifeblood of our economy. This is why we introduced Bill , which provides a middle-class tax cut to support Canadian families.
My constituents of are happy to finally have a government that believes that they too deserve tax relief. The Liberal middle-class tax cut will lift $3 billion in tax burden from the backs of middle-class income earners.
Bill will reduce the middle-income tax rate from 22% to 20.5%. It will also reduce the contribution limit on tax free savings accounts from $10,000 to $5,500. This will benefit about nine million Canadians, which accomplishes two important objectives. First, it will restore fairness to the tax system by treating middle-income earners on par with the highest earning bracket and corporate Canada, which received the majority of tax relief from the previous government.
Just as important, this is a middle-class tax cut that is designed to stimulate the economy. The Bank of Montreal's chief economist, Doug Porter, has stated that this tax cut will encourage an increase in consumer spending and might compel middle-class earners to work more, because they will be able to keep more of their paycheques in their pockets.
History has shown that a middle-class tax cut has one of the highest returns on investment for a government, because it spurs growth by encouraging spending in the local economy. This is why, in and across Canada, small businesses are also supportive of this measure. It means that they will see a direct positive impact.
However, this is not the only way this government is putting money back into the pockets of families. The new Canada child benefit creates a simpler, more generous, and tax-free infusion for families with children.
Investment does not stop there. We will also invest in cities, the economic engines that are critical to the success of our national economy. In Surrey Newton, we see the strain that is caused by rapid growth. The city of Surrey continues to welcome over 1,000 new residents per month, and we need to continue to improve our municipal services to accommodate this growth.
This Liberal government has committed to investing $125 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade public infrastructure and public transit. The newly proposed LRT line in Surrey is absolutely essential for strong public transit long into the future. Within the next 30 years, Surrey will emerge as the largest city in British Columbia, and easily accessible public transit is critical to that evolution.
Our government understands that investing in Canada's economy must be balanced, but it also means that we will never give up on working to get our natural resources to international markets. Our and this government will never forget that 1.8 million jobs are directly and indirectly attached to natural resources across Canada.
This government looks far into the future of Canada's economy and plans for long-term sustainability and growth. This will be accomplished in a number of specific ways: by ensuring that environmental sustainability is at the heart of Canada's resource sector, which will make Canadian resources globally attractive; by working with the provinces and territories to ensure that under-represented groups are represented in a new skills and labour strategy; by supporting growing firms in attracting talent and investment while still incorporating innovation in their operations; and by enhancing the Canada pension plan co-operatively with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that all Canadians have access to a secure retirement. I cannot emphasize how important this kind of approach is to the future success of all Canadians.
In Surrey, we had the pleasure of being one of the six cities to host the hon. during the pre-budget consultation tour. The minister was able to hear a wide range of perspectives from one of the most dynamic communities in Canada, and one of the key messages was this: Canada can no longer place all of its eggs in one basket. We must look for balance. We must invest in the middle class, in cities, and in different industries, and we must take the long view for our future generations.
These are the same messages we are hearing from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We have reached nearly 150,000 Canadians in these pre-budget consultations, through technology and through in-person meetings. This is the largest participation in pre-budget consultations in Canadian history. We are proud of this inclusive approach, which will come to define everything our government does over the next four years. This is a government for all provinces, all territories, all cities, all financial profiles, all races, and all backgrounds. We are committed to listening to each and every perspective and opinion. This is why our mandate to grow the economy sustainably, responsibly, fairly, and with a long-term vision was supported in Surrey—Newton and across Canada. We will continue to show respect for every single Canadian voice as we work towards presenting our budget in the coming months.
I am proud to say that balance is back in Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to mention at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment as one of the chair occupants. I know you will enjoy the role.
I would also very much like to thank the voters of Regina—Qu'Appelle for once again placing their trust in me. This the first time I have had the floor for a formal speech, so I would like to do that now. In order to come back to this place, one has to go and talk to a lot of constituents in the riding and connect with them during the election campaign. I did just that.
I knocked on an awful lot of doors. Of course the past election gave us a little more time to do that due to its increased length. I would like to say I got to just about every community and every neighbourhood. I will not say I knocked on every single door, because with 30,000-plus households, I do not know that it was possible, but I did my best to get to that target.
I knocked on a lot of doors where the person who answered the door had a direct interest in the construction of pipelines. They had a direct interest because—and members might not know this—in Regina we are proud to host Evraz steel. Evraz steel is the largest single private sector employer in Regina. It employs more than 1,000 people directly and hundreds more in spinoff industries. They make, specifically, large-diameter steel pipelines.
When we talk about pipelines in this place, for the folks back home in Regina we are not talking about some theoretical, far-away project; we are not talking about an ideological thing; we are talking about the very issue, the very type of industry that pays their bills, pays their mortgages, and helps put their kids through sports.
Evraz steel has its roots in the 1960s as IPSCO. Many people in Saskatchewan are very familiar with that name. It is a corporate citizen that sponsors many events and has naming rights on some recreational facilities around Regina.
People all over Saskatchewan are very familiar with how important this issue is. The energy sector in Saskatchewan and western Canada is going through tremendous strain. We all know what the price of oil is. I do not think there is anyone in this room who would say that any government can control the price of oil, artificially lift it or artificially reduce it, perhaps, unless it is the government of an OPEC nation.
However, what governments can do is create a climate of confidence and climate that is conducive to economic growth. That is what our Conservative government did for just over 10 years. While we were in government, Conservatives approved four major pipeline projects that were all started, contrary to what the NDP said earlier, under our government, processed under our government, and approved under our Conservative government.
That is our record. All this talk about the process not leading to confidence, the existing process not leading to certainty to actually allow these proposals to be approved is simply false. There is a record of approval, a record of construction of these pipeline projects, and a record of people working in these industries.
In Regina, the spinoff effects are so obvious. When talking to a person at the door, we see in their driveway a vehicle they have purchased in the last 12 months. They have put their kids through sports and activities. They eat out at restaurants. The local economy in Regina, in Saskatchewan, is so dependent not just on the energy that we extract from the ground but also on the construction, the secondary industries, the value-added industries, and the manufacturing jobs that we have at these companies.
It is not just the large ones, like Evraz. There are all kinds of medium and small businesses all over southern Saskatchewan that have grown up over the years and employ dozens, if not hundreds of people, to supply this industry.
That is what we have on the one hand; we have hard-working families who count on those paycheques, which they receive because of this industry, to pay the bills. They know that, because of the low price of oil around the world, their sector is going through some tremendous challenges. They are looking to the government to help protect that industry, to protect jobs not just in western Canada but in regions all over the country.
There are manufacturing jobs in Ontario that are dependent on supplying the energy sector in Alberta and Saskatchewan. There are manufacturing jobs in Quebec that rely on the same thing. There are transportation jobs all over the country that rely on a strong and competitive natural resource sector. What they are looking for is the government to say that it stands with then, it supports them, it promotes them, it is a champion of this industry, it is proud to have the natural resources sector in our country, and it is going to do everything it can to help develop it.
Canadian oil is the cleanest, most ethical source of energy in the world, and we should be proud of that. We should support the men and women who work in those industries.
During the election we heard a lot of talk. We heard a lot of talk when the was in western Canada. He would pay lip service to these jobs. He would tell the people of western Canada that in theory he supported them, and then he would go to other parts of the country and say completely different things. Contrast the record of our government, with four approved pipeline projects, to one of the first things the present Prime Minister did, which was to cancel the northern gateway project, which would have brought thousands of jobs to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. He cancelled it unilaterally.
In addition to that, while he is paying lip service in the west, he is doing the exact opposite with his processes. He is bringing in a regulatory regime that is designed to bring about rejections. This is a process that is designed to reject proposals. It is a never-ending series of moving goal posts. It is the exact opposite of what we accomplished when we were in government, which was to enact a predictable, science-based review process that had a guaranteed time limit; so that companies would have the certainty that, if they met the very strict and rigorous tests for environmental protection, they would end up with an approval. That inspires investor confidence. It tells the workers back home in those industries that they have a job at the end of the day, that they have a project that their company can bid for successfully.
In this time of economic uncertainty, the Liberals are also talking about stimulating the economy with massive new spending projects and with huge deficits. During the campaign, the promised to run a $10 billion deficit, and now we know he will not come close to that target. He has gone way past that.
There is a $15 billion stimulus project that is shovel-ready and will not require a cent of taxpayers' money, and that is the energy east project. That is what we are talking about today. It would not require any money to be transferred from the taxpayer, run through the bureaucrats in Ottawa, and then spent by other levels of government. This is private sector money to bring much-needed western oil to eastern markets. At a time when parts of our country import foreign oil, it makes no sense to me why this is such a controversial issue.
The yesterday announced a new process for these types of projects, and I have a few concerns I would like to put on the record. I look forward to explanations throughout the day and into next week.
There is a bit of a double standard emerging around western Canadian energy. The talked about including “upstream” emissions. Is this the only industry to which that is going to apply? Are we going to apply upstream emissions calculations to the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec? Are we going to talk about downstream emissions, as the Liberal minister did yesterday, to hydro projects that are being contemplated? If that hydro is being used for manufacturing in the rest of Canada, will that be calculated into the GHG analysis? Right now it seems that it is only the western energy sector that is being applied to, and that is patently unfair.
What Canadians need at this time is a message of support from the federal government. That is what they are getting from this side of the House. The Conservative Party stands unabashedly behind the workers and families that are employed in those sectors.
I do not know if some members have had a chance to go through Calgary in the last little bit or go to parts of Alberta or Saskatchewan that have been hit so hard. There is real desperation in the families in those areas. The climate is very bleak. At this critical moment, what those workers and those families need to see in Ottawa is a government that is a champion of these types of private sector projects. There is not enough federal money to make up for the private sector's ability to stimulate our economy right now. All the government needs to do is get out of the way. We do not need fancy new programs. We do not need bureaucratic processes. We do not need to hire hundreds more civil servants to figure out how to spend tax money. We just need to allow the private sector to do what it does best.
I urge members across the way to vote for the motion, stand with the men and women who have been hit hard by this economic downturn, and support the energy east proposal.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from for sharing his time with me.
I have to say, it was a long day yesterday as I watched the announcement from the and the . I was eager to see some glimmer of hope that the Liberal government now understood the significance of the energy industry to Canada's economy and the crisis that is going on in our energy industry right now, especially in Alberta. I must admit, when they announced the first of their five principles, I was somewhat optimistic. The first principle was that the projects now in the queue would not have to go back to square one. I thought this was a good start. Obviously, my optimism did not last very long. In fact, with each additional layer of bureaucracy, delay tactics, and vague guidelines, I came to realize, as many people in the oil sector did as well, that the announcement meant that we would likely never get another pipeline built in Canada.
I would like to take a moment today to explain to Canadians exactly what happened in that announcement yesterday. The Liberal government has told Canadian investors, in fact all Canadians, that it would rather support foreign oil producers over Canadian businesses and Alberta employers. It believes the environmental record of Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia is a better option than Canada's world renown regulatory regime. It would rather listen to vocal foreign funded lobby groups than Canadian innovators and economists. It would rather support economies in Venezuela, Iran, and Sudan over Canadian jobs and Canadian families.
Completing these crucial pieces of infrastructure would transport Canadian oil, extracted under world-class Canadian standards. It would create Canadian jobs, establish a secure source of market for a Canadian product, and raise revenue to fund Canadian social programs and Canadian infrastructure projects. Instead, the option the Liberal government has selected is supporting having eastern Canada import 630,000 barrels of foreign oil a day from places like Nigeria, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. These are places that are not exactly world renown for their environmental stewardship or human rights records. This, in essence, is exactly what happened yesterday.
This is not rhetoric. This is what I am hearing from Albertans every single day, not just from people in the energy industry but people across the province. These are Albertans who today feel abandoned by the Liberal government.
This decision is absolutely devastating to the Canadian economy and we will feel it especially deeply in my riding of Foothills, where everyone directly or indirectly relies on a strong energy sector for their livelihood. Whether they are in the energy industry, or Clean Harbors in High River, or a Canadian oil sands construction company in Okotoks, or they own a hotel in Claresholm, are a welder in Pincher Creek, or they own a shop in the Crowsnest Pass, this news, this lack of leadership and a framework, is going to be absolutely devastating to southern Alberta.
After the announcement of the delay of energy east and the Trans Mountain pipeline extension yesterday, I spent last night speaking to many stakeholders across Alberta. The feedback was unanimous. The message the announcement sent to Canada's resource sector is that we are closed for business. Instead, the government wants to add bureaucracy, red tape, and political influence to try to reach consensus. Adding more layers of regulations, infringing on provincial jurisdictions, and delaying decisions will not reach consensus. What we need from the Liberal government is leadership to do what is right for Canada and to stand up for our strong record as a resource-rich country.
Provinces such as Alberta, through the Alberta Energy Regulator and Alberta Environment, already have strong regulatory regimes to measure GHG emissions upstream. In fact, Alberta announced an even more stringent climate change framework in November. Now the Liberal government wants to add additional bureaucracy and red tape to that already difficult system.
It was under the Conservative government's leadership that we passed the Pipeline Safety Act, which ensured a world-class pipeline safety regime. We also strengthened the National Energy Board funding to increase annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50% and double the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada, which is now among the best in the world, with a 99.99% safety record. That is something the rest of the world will envy.
Canada's environmental regulatory regime is among the best in the world; especially, when we compare it with some of the countries that are going to be exporting their oil into eastern Canada. For example, in 2013, the World Energy Council acknowledged Canada's higher pace of environmental improvement and ranked it higher as a builder of sustainable energy systems compared with other fossil fuel countries, including Norway, Australia, and the United States. Based upon energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability, the World Energy Council ranked Canada number nine in the entire world.
The low carbon fuel standard stated there are 13 oil fields in California alone, as well as crude oil blends in six other countries, that generate higher upstream green gas emissions than the Canadian bitumen production.
Where is the dirtiest oil in North America? It certainly is not in Canada. In fact, it is just outside Los Angeles, where the oil field generates twice the level of upstream GHGs as the Canadian oil sands. The title of “world's dirtiest oil” goes to the Brass crude from Nigeria, where the upstream GHG emissions are more than four times higher than the Canadian oil sands. Yet, we do not seem to have a problem with importing that into eastern Canada.
A 2014 study by WorleyParsons compared Alberta's environmental standards with nine other comparable jurisdictions around the world. Canada ranked atop all 10 when it came to transparency, compliance, and stringency of our environmental record.
The Liberal government is further putting Canada at a competitive disadvantage compared with other oil-producing countries, including the United States, which is not talking about a federal carbon tax, is not stopping building pipelines, and in fact has doubled its production to nine million barrels a day over the last five years.
Canadians understand energy is a critical part of our economy. It provides jobs and opportunities from coast to coast to coast. It is unfortunate to see this Liberal government trivializing the importance of our natural resource sector, even though it makes up 20% of our nominal GDP, at $160 billion a year.
The proposed energy east pipeline has two distinct elements: the conversion of 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipeline that will be converted to transport oil; and additional construction of 1,500 kilometres of new pipeline in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. This 4,600-kilometre pipeline would carry approximately 1.1 million barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.
Energy east would basically generate thousands of jobs across the country and address what I hear on a regular basis: the want and the need in Canada for value-added refined bitumen right here at home. This is a huge win-win for Canada.
In fact, energy east would develop more than 14,000 jobs annually during the nine-year construction stage, and 1,300 of those full-time jobs would be in Alberta.
Unfortunately, the Liberal government is now causing further uncertainty in an industry already hit hard by low oil prices, as well as an Albertan carbon tax and a new royalty regime which may be announced tomorrow.
The downturn in the energy sector impacts all Canadians, but is hitting Albertans hardest of all, and it is only getting worse. While the Liberal government feels its lack of leadership in the resource sector is refreshing, Alberta's oil and gas sector is hurting. More than $50 billion in investment has already left Alberta and the wealth transfer from Canada to the United States is about $30 billion a year.
Now, this week, Statistics Canada has announced the initial job losses report for Alberta was incorrect. Instead of 14,000 job losses, it is now saying 19,000 Albertans have lost their jobs last year, the worst since the Liberals introduced the national energy program in the 1980s. Alberta's unemployment rate, once the envy of Canada, is expected to exceed 8% by the end of 2016.
One thing really caught my attention in the announcement yesterday. They made this announcement for the future of our children.
I remember growing up in Saskatchewan under an NDP government, and my dad saying, “Go to Alberta, take advantage of the Alberta advantage, and don't come back. There's nothing for you here.”
I am very fearful that under this Liberal government's policy, I am going to have to tell the same thing to my kids, “You're going to have to leave Alberta because there are not jobs here for you.”