Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely a pleasure to join in this debate this evening. I will be sharing my time with the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.
I appreciate the official opposition bringing this motion forward this evening. I know many people in Alberta are feeling the pain. I worked the best part of 10 years in Alberta, mainly in Fort McMurray. I had the great privilege of getting around to many parts of the province, having had the opportunity to coach in the Alberta junior hockey league. I was in pretty much every rink down in the south. We went to the Foothills looking for a goaltender down there, found none.
From Crowsnest Pass to Taber to Lethbridge and all out through Wetaskiwin, to every little rink, I got to know so many great people, hard-working, honest people raising beautiful kids. I had the great pleasure to coach a number of them during my time in Fort McMurray. My wife taught in Calgary for a couple of years. My focus will be more about Fort McMurray because I continue to stay in touch with my friends in Fort McMurray, having left in 1986. I try to get back every couple of years.
I know, like many other Canadians, we were just blown away with the impact of forest fires in Fort McMurray. Certainly that just sort of added to the dismay and added to the hurt that that community was feeling with the downturn in commodity prices and the drop in the price of oil. When you throw fires on top of that, and having lived in the Fort for 10 years when it comes to forest fire season, everybody sort of has their heart in their mouth. We saw the devastation and loss in that community
Entire neighbourhoods, like Beacon Hill, Abasands, and Waterways, were just wiped out. People's livelihoods were wiped out. The impact it had on that community was devastating. I know I gave an S.O. 31, a statement at that time. It always riled me when Canadians would speak about Fort McMurray, sort of referring to it as this country's ATM, that it was a place to go and work, make money and then leave. That is not Fort McMurray at all.
Fort McMurray is a fabulous community, and I think it reflects the values of the province of Alberta. I know it is a special place in Alberta. All Albertans and all Canadians, who have been a part of that community, understand just what a special community it is.
That community still has not rebounded from that fire. Community members have tried to get back to a certain degree. The reality is that there is a new normal in Fort McMurray.
Let me boil it down. I know that part of the growth and part of the success of Fort McMurray and in turn Alberta was because Liberal governments had worked with the provincial governments and with industry to grow opportunities. When I started there, it was only the Great Canadian Oil Sands and then Syncrude opened up. There was only Suncor and Syncrude. In 2003, Suncor opened up a third mine. There was a federal government in Ottawa, and three big SAGD projects started up in Alberta at the time.
The Scotford upgrader was built. We know that was much to the benefit of the people in the Edmonton area, and all of Alberta, really. There was Albian Sands. Those were investments that were made that helped grow that economy, the national economy.
We will continue to work with the people in Alberta, the premier and her government, and the industry in Alberta. The drop in commodity prices has been horrific. Above that, there were the fires in Fort McMurray. There has been a great deal of hardship. The government understands that the people of Fort McMurray need and deserve help. We will be there to continue to work with them and help them.