Evidence of meeting #25 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was pipeline.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Okay.

Ms. Krause, I have a question for you, and obviously it's going to be an opinion question, or an opinion on your part. With the money that's coming into Canada to influence the process, and we've talked about who that money is targeting, is it targeting politicians--and I'll put an opinion in your mouth and you can agree or disagree--or is it targeting first nations specifically to get them to resist, because they can be much more effective resisting something like this than other groups? Who's the target for that money?

10:10 a.m.

As an Individual

Vivian Krause

I think what I've seen is that the target is to influence politicians indirectly by shaping public opinion and by getting media coverage that puts pressure on politicians to make certain decisions. I think I have seen grants specifically to influence regulation. One that comes to mind, and I testified about it last time I was before the committee, is that the Bullitt Foundation funded the Dogwood Initiative and other projects supported by Tides Canada, and I quote, “to mobilize urban voters for a federal ban on coastal tanker traffic”.

Days after I testified to this committee about that grant, the Bullitt Foundation rewrote the grant. Since I've been doing this research, seven foundations have rewritten or removed their grant information about specific grants.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Ms. Krause, and thank you, Mr. Hawn. Your time is up.

We go now to Ms. Péclet for up to five minutes, please.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Thank you.

I would also like to thank the witnesses for being here today. Since I have a lot of questions, I will ask you to keep your answers brief and concise. The first one is for Mr. Caron.

One of the NEB's main objectives is to ensure that Canadians benefit from the infrastructure and economic spinoff created by the energy sector. Do you study that aspect? Do you assess the economic viability of a new pipeline for the Canadian market, regardless of the project? Do you mostly assess the impact on the refining sector? Many years ago, people began to realize that these energy policies were detrimental to the refining sector.

10:10 a.m.

Chair and CEO, National Energy Board

Gaétan Caron

Honourable member, any application we receive is first and foremost a request from a company seeking our approval. Those companies have a duty to provide us with any information we deem pertinent to environmental, social and economic issues.

With respect to sustainable development, our job, under the act, is to examine the three sides of sustainable development and make a decision. We envision what approving and denying the project would mean for Canada. Then we determine which of the two scenarios—in other words, one where the permit is granted and one where it is not—as well as the conditions we could impose, would benefit Canadians more.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Okay.

I would like to pick up on what my colleague said about barrel price. He talked about a $12 to $13 increase. I would like to hear your thoughts on that. Clearly, that would lead to an increase in the price of gas. Would you not say that consumers are paying enough as it is? I would just like to know where that information comes from and how it is possible to predict that the price of a barrel will go up $12 to $13.

10:15 a.m.

Chair and CEO, National Energy Board

Gaétan Caron

I will answer that indirectly. The NEB does not do separate studies on those kinds of issues. It does an overall assessment of the supply and demand market in Canada. However, if a phenomenon like the one you described were to occur, the cause would be what is known as a market imperfection in economic terms, in other words, inadequate transportation between those producing the economic or energy commodity and those wanting to purchase it.

If you impose a constraint between the two, you are creating a market distortion and thus diminishing the result you would have gotten with economic efficiency in a competitive marketplace. I would say there is a social consensus that economically efficient markets are seen as being in the public interest of Canadians.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

I agree completely. That is why energy policies should focus on the domestic market. We know that only 11.9% of refined oil in Quebec comes from Canada. The rest likely comes from Europe or countries in Africa. So I fully appreciate that we should focus on our market here at home before we develop numerous oil pipeline projects to export our crude oil and create jobs in Canada.

All that to say that I am coming back to the consultation process Ms. Krause mentioned. She talked about—

open and fair participation of the public in the process.

I would like to know whether the minister gave you any indication of the amendments he planned to make. In light of the current economic situation, would you not say that it is extremely important for the public to have its say? The objective is to speed up the process, but the hidden objective is to keep people from expressing their views, is it not? Have you received any indication of that?

10:15 a.m.

Chair and CEO, National Energy Board

Gaétan Caron

I can only speak for us, honourable member. Our job, in terms of applying both legal and conscience-minded principles as a quasi-judicial body, is to listen to Canadians. By the same token, we don't want to spend ages reviewing the issues that come before us. We must provide Canadians with an efficient and effective process. It is never an easy choice, but it is fundamentally important to have a process that gives the decision makers—

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

So you have not received any indication as to the amendments on the way.

10:15 a.m.

Chair and CEO, National Energy Board

Gaétan Caron

I read newspapers like everyone else. As I already said, what people tell us during hearings is what we are bound by. People identify themselves as intervenors or parties wanting to make comments. We listen to what they have to say and we take it into consideration. That is the one and only way to exert influence on our work.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

My last comment will be for Mrs. Krause.

I understand your point of view, but the Government of Canada also accepted millions of dollars from big oil companies to lobby in Europe for oil sands. It would be nice, and more neutral, for you to do that both ways, for the people who want to defend the environment and for the government that accepted money from companies to lobby in Europe. We should see what that money was put into. That's it.

Thank you very much. I'm done.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Merci, Ms. Péclet.

Mr. Anderson, up to five minutes, please.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Chair, I think when we take money from companies that's called taxation. It pays our social programs, and all of that as well.

Mr. Caron, I would like to come back to Mr. Calkins' question. He talked about your involvement in the reversal of the pipeline. What is the trigger for you to get involved? Is it any physical change at all, or is it any call from the public? I'm interested in when you become involved and why. Then, are the requirements right now practical and necessary? Do they need to be that way, or are there some changes we need to make?

10:15 a.m.

Chair and CEO, National Energy Board

Gaétan Caron

The first trigger is that there be an application for a part of a pipeline. The word “pipeline” is defined in the act. We have a legal interpretation that says if you want to add valves and fittings and modify the physical configuration of a pipeline, aside from flow reversal, you must file an application. That was filed with us by Enbridge.