Department officials give no answers
OTTAWA, ON—Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, attended the Standing Committee on Natural Resources yesterday to answer questions on main budget estimates and the Liberals’ spending plan. Deputy Minister Christyne Tremblay, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer Cheri Crosby and Associate Deputy Minister Philip Jennings were also present.
“My Opposition colleagues and I asked very direct questions to the Minister. He deflected and refused to answer,” said Shannon Stubbs, MP for Lakeland and Deputy Critic for Natural Resources. “He celebrated Canadian mining, forestry, but downplayed Canadian energy. I asked him if he believes Canada produces the most environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas in the world. His response? That he is ‘not in a position to know what metrics [are being referred to] to say that it’s the most or the best.’ How can energy workers, scientists and innovators, who have made Canada a global energy leader and to keep Canada, trust a Minister who won’t stand up for their successes and their jobs, and doesn’t seem to know the facts?” said MP Stubbs.
In response to the Minster’s answer, MP Stubbs said: “I appreciate the Minister taking the time to read off some statistics, but Albertans have a hard time believing much of his words. Albertans have a hard time believing this because the Minister, and the Liberals, have no problem passionately, directly, and coherently talking about other sectors leading the world, and then equivocate and can’t answer the same directly about Canadian oil and gas. On a number of measures ranging from the regulatory system to environmental performance, it is acknowledged by experts around the world that Canadian oil and gas is the most environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas in the world,” said MP Stubbs.
In the Minister’s opening remarks, he highlighted a one time $30 million transfer to the Alberta government to “help stimulate economic activity” in the province. Stubbs pointed out the action taken by the Liberals in response to massive job losses in the energy sector only involved a 5 1/2 week EI extension while they gave $372 million to Bombardier and spend millions in other sectors and other countries. Bombardier employs 66,000 people across Canada. The Oil and Gas sector employs 798,333 people in 38 energy related service industries.
“Albertans are confused about concreate actions the Liberals are taking in response to… the drop in energy investment over the past couple of years, that is the equivalent of the elimination of the entire auto manufacturing sector and 75% of the aerospace sector [in Canada],” said Stubbs. After committee, MP Stubbs said: “Albertans don’t even want handouts, but they do want the Liberal government to stop piling on red tape, costs, and infrastructure approval delays to the energy sector which make an already dire situation so much worse. Energy workers just want the Minister to state the fact: that Canada is a world leader in sustainable energy development and innovation, just as Canada is in mining, forestry and nuclear. The Liberals talk about phasing out the oil sands and don’t stand up for Canada’s energy successes. They seem unaware of Canada’s achievements and track record of responsible oil and gas development, especially compared to other energy producing countries around the world,” said MP Stubbs.
Oil and gas developers are the biggest investors in clean tech and alternative energy technologies of all natural resources sectors, having invested $2 billion research and development in 2016, including renewables, electric, energy efficiency, nuclear, and fossil fuels.
“The Minister is pitting sector against sector and provinces against each other. Energy development in Canada is a success story, and the Prime Minister and Ministers should be its champion. An oil sands company is actually the single largest employer of First Nations in Canada, and First Nations are very active in Alberta oil and gas development, from upstream exploration and production to service and supply contracting, but the Liberals often imply all First Nations people are against oil and gas, while acknowledging First Nations’ significant participation in mining. Energy producers invest record amounts in innovation, and constantly improve energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Conventional oil and gas, and pipeline, companies are actually Canada’s largest investors in wind and solar projects. Canadian energy producers are second to none around the world, but the Liberals don’t seem to know it,” said MP Stubbs.
MP Stubbs completed her remarks by bringing up the Liberals’ record on pipelines.
“It’s the first time in Canadian history that a Prime Minister overruled and rejected the independent recommendation of a regulator on the only pipeline that would actually expand and diversify our exports markets, and allow energy products to get to Asian markets. The political veto of Northern Gateway, a project that involved the same evidence and process for two other pipelines approved on the same day, killed 600 million (already invested), 3000 jobs, and 33 First Nations equity partnerships. The Liberals acknowledge Canada’s dependence on the US market, but blocked the only pipeline that would diversify the customer base. The Liberals’ regulatory reviews and added red tape undermine confidence in Canadian energy investment, multinational investors are pulling out, and pipeline proponents don’t know what to expect” said MP Stubbs.
Following the Minister’s appearance, a Liberal MP at the committee said the entire committee should come together as ‘Team Canada’ on a proposed trip to Washington.
“The Liberals’ rhetoric about Team Canada is empty, while Canada’s Natural Resources Minister won’t stand up and tell the truth about Canadian oil and gas, and won’t even commit to working with pipeline companies to ensure the projects they actually approved will actually get built. Energy workers, producers and investors, provide jobs, prosperity, and government revenue, from coast to coast to coast, and improve the standard of living in every community across Canada. The world needs more Canada and the Liberals need to champion Canadian energy and Canadian jobs,” said MP Stubbs.
Shannon Stubbs is the MP for Lakeland and Deputy Critic for Natural Resources