Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance this evening to bring my remarks to this discussion as a rural member of Parliament from Nova Scotia.
I believe it is an important time to talk about our energy sector in this country, and I appreciate that the member for Lakeland has brought this motion forward.
I will start by recognizing the role that the energy sector, particularly in western Canada, has played and will continue to play in supporting our prosperity across this country. Many of my colleagues have highlighted that in their speeches here this evening.
The economic benefit that these projects have brought to our country have helped pay for public services from Newfoundland to British Columbia and everywhere in between. In my riding of Kings—Hants there are many residents who have benefited and continue to benefit from these types of projects, and they are not just Alberta projects or western Canada projects. They are truly national projects.
My perspective on the discourse around the Teck Frontier decision, particularly in the last month, is that it was polarized in a very detrimental way. In one sense, many of my Conservative colleagues alluded to the positive impact that this project or similar projects would have on job creation and taxation for public spending in this country, and that certainly resonates with me. However, there is very little acknowledgement of the environmental impacts of these projects and our ability as a country to meet our international climate targets.
Some of my Bloc, NDP and Green colleagues rightfully pointed to the reality that these projects, like Teck, create challenges for us to be able to meet our climate targets and that they have an environmental impact both locally and regionally. However, I think they fail to appreciate that the oil and gas industry will play a reduced but still important role in the Canadian and global economy in the days ahead.
The reality is that Canadians want balance. They want a government that is focused on climate change and protecting the environment, but also supporting a strong economy. The Prime Minister has made this clear time and time again, and we have done that. We have created 1.2 million jobs since 2015 while implementing a price on pollution and reducing the GHG emission gap that the Conservative government had left us in 2015.
I want to provide a couple of examples which I believe illustrate Canadians' desire for a government that is balanced on both sides of this issue.
Canadians overwhelmingly support a price on pollution. They overwhelmingly voted in the last election for parties that want to move forward on environment and climate change. However, Canadians overwhelmingly also support the construction of Trans Mountain pipeline. Canadians are pragmatic, and they want a government that has this balance.
My concern is the tone of this particular debate and narrative in this House. The middle ground on these issues seems to have eroded.
I want to address first the narrative from the Conservatives that Teck represents 10,000 jobs, and that somehow Alberta and western Canada's only way forward is through oil and gas.
The member for Lethbridge suggested that people in her province want to work, but suggested that seemingly the only way forward or the only type of work is in the oil and gas sector. I know that is important, but to suggest that this is the only way forward is, frankly, naive of the other opportunities. I do not mean to be unparliamentary, but I think it sells short the potential that is in western Canada.
I want to talk about the 10,000 jobs. We know that there would be 10,000 jobs if construction had moved forward. However, Teck decided not to move this project forward, and the jobs would have only been created if the project were to be built. The CEO of Teck had mentioned three impediments in being able to move that forward.
One impediment was price. The Government of Canada does not control the world oil price. The project was built on an economic analysis of $95 for a barrel of oil. I believe right now the price of oil on the global market is about $50. Although my Conservative colleagues would talk about the viability of this project, there is no doubt that the analysis was originally built on an expectation of something that is far from reality at this point or in the foreseeable future.
They talked about a partner. The Government of Canada is not involved with supporting a private sector partner to move this forward, and so that would be another impediment. Of course, our government is committed to making sure the pipeline and Trans Mountain happens so that we have the ability to get our resources to market.
However, the narrative in the House has been “if only this project was approved”, which, of course, we did not have the ability to choose to go forward with, and “if only 10,000 jobs would be created” is a fallacy. We cannot tell Canadians that if only this happens they will have 10,000 jobs, because it is selling short and not explaining the nuances of this particular project.
Here is why it is a fallacy. As far as I know, there are currently 38 petroleum or oil and gas projects that have been approved. They could start tomorrow if industry wanted to move them forward. They have gone through the regulatory process, but they are not being built. As much as my Conservative colleagues would suggest the cause is Bill C-69 or other legislative measures that we have taken forward on environment, the reality is that these energy companies are looking at a 40-year window. They are recognizing that the world is making a transition.
We are moving to a low-carbon economy. We are moving on renewable energy around the world, and they are rightfully asking whether they can return their cost of capital. We know that the Canadian energy sector is important and that they do amazing work, but we also know that the process to extract the bitumen from the oil sands is much more energy intensive.
The fact is that we have 38 projects. Some colleagues in this House would be excited by the fact that they are not being built because they would put us further and further away from our emission target, and I can appreciate that. However, I think all Canadians, not just Albertans or those from western Canada, need to understand the importance that these projects have played and the revenue that they have created for our economy to pay for public services. We need to make sure that we can transition and support, if these energy companies do not want to move forward on these projects.
Those who would suggest that the petroleum industry in Canada has no future, or that it is not economically viable, fail to appreciate that transition does not happen overnight. They fail to appreciate the work the Government of Canada has done in the last four years to meet and exceed our Paris climate accords.
In 2015, our government inherited the reality that our country was on pace to miss our international climate targets by over 300 megatonnes. In the four years that we have been in office, we have been able to reduce that gap to 72 megatonnes, and that is not including the measures that we will be bringing forward in this parliamentary session.
My message to my progressive colleagues in this chamber is that we need an industry and we need western provinces that will co-operate and help us get there. We need to be able to work with them accordingly. Having a petroleum industry that provides the needed international product and also helps our country on its path to meet its much-needed GHG emission targets is the best path forward.
I, for one, certainly appreciate Don Lindsay's words on reducing partisanship on these particular issues. We can find a way to balance the reality that the petroleum sector will play an important role in the Canadian economy and the global economy in the days ahead, but it will not necessarily play the same integral role in the next 50 years as it has in the last 50. I think we need to be mindful of that.
I have appreciated the opportunity to speak to this issue this evening, and I welcome some questions from my colleagues accordingly.