Ottawa, ON—Last week, the Minister of Natural Resources said the Keystone XL pipeline project is “not a priority” for the federal Liberal government. Shannon Stubbs, MP for Lakeland, pressed the Minister in the House of Commons on Friday for answers.
“Thousands of Albertans are out of work and have been for over a year, and not one additional full-time job has been created in Canada under the Liberals in that same time. Meanwhile, the U.S. President-elect said he will approve Keystone XL within 100 days of taking office, but our Minister of Natural Resources says it is ‘not a priority,’” questioned Stubbs.
The Minister of Natural Resources avoided the question and did not respond. Stubbs was surprised when the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development rose to answer.
“We have been very clear that jobs are a priority for our government,” said Minister Bains. “We have created 139,600 jobs. These jobs are across the country, including in Alberta. Just to highlight some examples with respect to jobs, we supported the relocation of Bell Helicopter, which created 1000 jobs in Quebec. GM Canada expanded its engineering and software developments. Again, these help young people find meaningful employment, a thousand jobs for them as well,” concluded Minister Bains.
The Minister’s comments lauded specific examples of job creation in other parts of Canada, and did not highlight any new jobs in Alberta.
“The Minister’s answer revealed just how out of touch the Liberals are with the unprecedented and escalating job losses in Alberta, which are disproportionate to any other province. The people in my home province have been struggling for over a year. In 2014, 9 out of 10 new jobs created in all of Canada were created in Alberta. Today, Alberta’s job losses are the highest in nearly 22 years. Pipeline projects are essential to job creation. It’s time for the Liberals to stop playing politics with Alberta’s future, stop putting up roadblocks to pipelines and giving into anti Canadian energy extremists, and start working to get Canadian energy – which is the most socially and environmentally responsible oil and gas in the world – to diverse global markets.”
The United States is both Canada’s single biggest customer and is rapidly becoming Canada’s biggest competitor. Stubbs said it’s clear the new US President-Elect will aggressively pursue US energy development and independence, so it is equally important for Canada’s Prime Minister and cabinet to secure agreement on the completion of Keystone XL to increase export capacity into the US, and to expedite the responsible approval of energy transportation infrastructure to diversify Canadian energy export markets and to expand the customer base for Canadian energy around the world. The US President-Elect has no plans to impose a carbon tax on Americans, like the other top 6 oil and gas producing countries in the world.
“Time is of the essence. The Minister needs to prioritize Canadian jobs and get this deal done before it is too late. Pipelines are lifelines for Alberta and for hundreds of thousands of energy workers across the country. Canada’s world leading oil and gas is at risk. The biggest customer, the U.S., has become the biggest competitor. Canada must diversify export markets now. The more delays, the less competitive Canada becomes,” said Stubbs.
Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau also said the federal government is willing to re-open NAFTA negotiations, despite the fact that the US President-Elect’s comments on NAFTA always referred to concerns with Mexico, and senior American representatives have affirmed the strong and mutually beneficial trading relationship between the United States and Canada recently, and during the past couple of months. Visiting Canada last week, Republican Rick Santorum highlighted how misguided it was for Prime Minister Trudeau to indicate a willingness to start NAFTA negotiations with the US before the new President even said anything about it.
“I was stunned. I think it was not a good move for [Canada], great move for the United States,” said Santorum. “…I’m not too sure he was going to ask for anything. When [Trump] was talking about NAFTA, I guarantee he wasn’t thinking Canadian workers and Canadian trade.”
Last year, Canada and the United States exchanged $760 billion worth of goods. Although Canada has held a slight advantage, exports from the US have doubled between 1993-2014.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has jumped the gun on this issue and has caused uncertainty throughout thousands of Canadian businesses, and put billions of exports and investment at risk, at the very worst time. Instead of playing a dangerous game of chicken with the US over NAFTA, the Prime Minister should prioritize Keystone XL given the President-Elect’s open support of the project, get the Softwood Lumber Deal done, which is more than 200 days past the already 100 days that were granted before the deal expired, and reverse his plan to impose a carbon tax on every person and community in Canada, to protect Canadian jobs and Canadian competitiveness. Canadians cannot afford another misstep when it comes to jobs and the economy,” said Stubbs.