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View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, earlier tonight we heard a Liberal member of Parliament tell this chamber that the government's goal in Canada is to produce the cleanest oil in the world. However, this is not true. We know what the Prime Minister told Canadians some years ago: The goal is actually to “phase out” the industry.
I can say this with some certainty because Canada is already an environmental leader when it comes to refining and producing its petroleum products. It is one of the cleanest producers in the world. If that is the goal, the government could say it is mission accomplished. It could get on with creating jobs and opportunity in Canada and exporting this technology and our clean ethical products around the world.
We know the decision that came down from Teck is a result of a market failure, which is produced by policy uncertainty. The result is fewer jobs, higher energy prices and less of Canada's ethical oil being consumed at home and around the world.
Teck's decision is a blow to Canada. It is devastating to Alberta's economy. It is also problematic and hurtful and is raising questions in Alberta about its place in Confederation in Canada. Jobs have been lost, opportunities have left, tax dollars are evaporating, and we now hear voices in western Canada wondering what Alberta's place is in the federation. This is a realistic question we hear, as people who look to Ottawa see a government trying to turn off this industry.
This is not the first time we have seen these actions from a federal government that is focused elsewhere. In my home province, energy east was killed. The government tried to say this too was a market decision, but energy east was following all the rules that were laid out by the Government of Canada. Those rules were changed midstream, something we never see. The company engaged in good faith in the Canadian regulatory process. It spent $1 billion trying to go through that process. Then the government changed the rules. The Prime Minister was not willing to spend a nickel of his political capital in Quebec, so the company walked away. It was another lost opportunity for Canada, an opportunity to bring the real eastern Canada, Atlantic Canada, into this nation building.
We look west and to central Canada and see jobs, growth and opportunity. We say in New Brunswick that we would like a piece of that. Instead of sending our best and brightest to work in this industry, this vital Canadian industry, we would like to see a piece of that in Atlantic Canada. However, the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party have other ideas. They want to shut it down. They wanted to shut it down in the east and now want to shut it down in western Canada.
Tonight I had the good fortune of hosting Preston Manning here on the Hill. Mr. Manning was in town promoting his new book about political involvement and engagement, entitled Do Something! I have known Preston Manning for 25 years now. When he sat in the House, his mantra was “the west wants in”. Thirty years ago he was championing western Canadians to come to Ottawa, roll up their sleeves and work with fellow Canadians.
Teck abandoned its project, not because of the market but because of policy failure and policy uncertainty, just like TransCanada did on energy east, just like Kinder Morgan did by bailing out of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which was purchased by the federal government, because things were falling apart so quickly, because of policy and regulatory uncertainty. Today what do we hear in western Canada? Not that the west wants in, but maybe, just maybe, that the west wants out. This is deeply concerning and should raise alarm bells at the highest level of the federal government. We do not want to see this happening.
Our country is strong because of western Canada. It is strong because of all parts of this country. If we have a region or province that feels shut out of the corridors of power and feels its concerns are being ignored, this is a problem, almost a crisis. I hope the government will reconsider its position.
Some say this decision by Teck was made because of a downturn in prices or they say that Teck is just hitting the pause button and will return. Some are even saying that in a way Alberta deserves this because it is not saving enough of its resource. However, there is no downturn in the industry. It is a made-in-Canada problem, a made-in-Canada downturn.
One only needs to look at the United States of America. It is booming. It is being called a blue-collar jobs boom. Jobs are being created, wealth is being created and opportunities are being created. At the same time, America last year, under President Donald Trump, believe or not, was the world's largest net CO2 reducer in the world. America has figured out that one can be prosperous, can cut CO2 and can create jobs.
To the idea that Teck will return, Teck is not going to return as long as the current government is in office under these policies. In fact, dare I say this is probably the last large-scale project we are going to see come to our shores. Why would a company come here? Project after project after project has been either cancelled, abandoned or killed by the government.
As for the notion that Alberta deserves this because it is just not saving enough compared to some European countries, those countries are not part of grand federations. Alberta has shared its wealth. It has shared the wealth with this federal government and it shares its wealth every single year with provinces across this country.
My province of New Brunswick receives a third of its budget every year from transfers from the federal government, generous transfers I know Albertans and other western Canadians are proud to pitch in to help. In the past, they have been allowed to do what they do best, which is to create jobs and opportunity and to share that wealth. They have grown mightily and we have seen a population boom in western Canada.
To my western friends, when the Liberals come to them and say not to worry and they will help with more transfers and EI, I say to run to the hills. We have that in Atlantic Canada. Life is pretty good, but that is not how one creates a growing economy that is going to see families grow, people move in and economies prosper. We are fortunate and thankful to have those transfers, but that is not the road a country follows to grow itself.
Today Canada is poorer because of this decision that is a direct result of the federal government. Indigenous communities that had agreed to it and were looking to participate are poorer. The provinces are going to be poorer over the long run as well. The government is destroying reliable energy, affordable energy and Canada's ethical energy industry. For that I say shame, because increasingly we are finding energy is cheaper outside of this country than good old made-in-Canada energy, and I decry that.
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