Evidence of meeting #10 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was energy.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Normand Mousseau  Scientific Director and Full Professor, As an Individual
Mark Agnew  Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Larry Rousseau  Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress
Tristan Goodman  President and Chief Executive Officer, Explorers and Producers Association of Canada
Tara Peel  Political Assistant to the President, Canadian Labour Congress
Ben Brunnen  Vice-President, Oil Sands, Fiscal and Economic Policy, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Bronwen Tucker  Public Finance Campaign Co-Manager, Oil Change International
Joy Aeree Kim  Lead, Fiscal Policy, United Nations Environment Programme
Shannon Joseph  Vice-President, Government Relations and Indigenous Affairs, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

I have a quick last question to the Canadian Labour Congress about making sure that workers are at the table.

We know the government has met with oil and gas lobbyists 6,000 times. Is it concerning to you, the overrepresentation and the say that the oil and gas lobby has with the current government? Would you like to see more representation for workers and a voice for workers at the table?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

That's more or less a yes or a no. That's what we have time for.

Go ahead, Mr. Rousseau.

11:55 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

Yes, yes and yes.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Good. I like those answers. Thank you very much. I apologize for that, but we have time constraints.

Go ahead, Mr. Lewis.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Do I have five minutes? Is that correct?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Yes, you do.

March 29th, 2022 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you very much.

Committee, thank you for the honour of being here today. It's my first time at the environment committee, so it's pretty cool.

My first question is to Mr. Rousseau. You mentioned a couple times.... In my capacity or portfolio as shadow minister for labour for the Conservative Party of Canada, I'm listening with very keen interest to all of your remarks. I think they're fantastic, so I thank you for your remarks.

You mentioned a few minutes ago that it doesn't seem as though the government has really come to the table. I introduced a private member's bill last Wednesday, Bill C-241, specifically for tradespersons. In your last remarks, you mentioned tradespersons and what they need. It's a deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons.

You mentioned you'll do whatever you can do to help out our trades folks. Would you be open and willing to putting a letter of support forward for this bill?

11:55 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

As I mentioned earlier, the CLC is not arguing against subsidies. You're talking about a tax deduction, so I'm very interested in seeing the draft of your bill, sir.

If you could flip that to us.... I'll ask Tara Peel to reach out to you so that we can see it. The devil is always in the details, as they say, but from what you're saying, we are keenly interested to see what that is all about.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Let's make that happen.

11:55 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

If it is what I think it is, let's make it happen, absolutely. We're willing to work with everyone, as long as it's in the interests of the workers.

Thank you very much.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you.

Through you, Mr. Chair, back to the same witness, what will, or what potentially could, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies do to workers and jobs if the transition to other types of energy happens too quickly?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Whom was that addressed to?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

I'm sorry, Mr. Chair. That was through you to Mr. Rousseau.

11:55 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

Could you repeat that question one more time, please?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

What will phasing out fossil fuel subsidies do to workers and jobs if the transition to other types of energy happens too quickly?

11:55 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

Your guess is as good as mine. We'd certainly be concerned about it. That's a very good question. I don't have the answer to that question right now. It's certainly something that should be taken into consideration by all parties—government, industry and labour—because that could very well happen.

I think it's an excellent question. We should talk more.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Rousseau. Let's do that, for sure.

Mr. Chair, through you to Mr. Agnew, we talk a lot with regard to Russia and Ukraine. What impact will the Russia-Ukraine conflict have on the strategy of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies now that international fossil fuels will be in higher demand?

11:55 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Mark Agnew

Without sounding too cute about it, I don't think it is an either-or equation. We are going to have global demand for oil and gas products for many years to come. Russia-Ukraine I think has only reduced the sources by which we are going to find those products and get them to market in certain countries. Not everyone has sanctioned Russia, but for those that have sanctioned, I think Canada looks like an increasingly attractive offer.

In some ways that only further underscores the point of using technologies like CCUS. Given that we will be producing these products for some time to come, we want to ensure that we have the technologies in place to reduce the emissions profile from that sector as we supply products to the world.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Agnew.

I know I'm down to 40 seconds here. All I'll say is that Russia will sanction Canadian oil perhaps and also sanctioned me, so I'm good with that.

With that, Mr. Chair, I will concede the rest of my time. Thank you.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you, Mr. Lewis.

We'll go to Mr. Weiler for the last question of this round.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd also like to thank our witnesses for joining us for the important study that we're doing right now.

My first question is for you, Mr. Rousseau. You mentioned that, as we're looking to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, we want to make sure that this doesn't come at the expense of workers. I was hoping you might be able to identify a fossil fuel subsidy that will benefit workers.

Noon

Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau

I'll kick this one over to my colleague Tara Peel.

Noon

Political Assistant to the President, Canadian Labour Congress

Tara Peel

As I said, the way you target government spending to support workers through the transition from fossil fuels to a net-zero economy.... We know that it's happening. We know that it isn't going to happen overnight. We need direct supports to ensure that workers have the training they need so that they can succeed and thrive in a net-zero economy. Make sure that if workers need to move to follow the work, they have the supports they need to do that. Make sure that the new jobs we are creating as we invest in greening the grid, invest in renewables and invest in those things are good jobs.

Workers are not afraid of hard work. It is workers' hard work that has built this economy. We are ready to step up and do the work that is needed to build a net-zero economy to protect us from the worst impacts of climate change, but we need those supports to be targeted towards making sure that workers and communities can thrive in net zero and not go into CEO bonuses and share payouts and those kinds of things.

We know the kinds of efficient supports that will put workers on the path to succeeding. When workers succeed, the country succeeds. We're ready to step up and do this work together, but we need to be at the table.

Noon

Liberal

Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you very much for that answer.

Through you, Mr. Chair, my next question is for Mr. Goodman.

I was hoping you could explain to our committee what effect the total elimination of efficient subsidies would have on the decarbonization of our energy sector. Is it possible that it would in fact actually slow the move to net zero?

Noon

President and Chief Executive Officer, Explorers and Producers Association of Canada

Tristan Goodman

Assuming by efficient subsidization you're actually targeting the application of renewables or clean technology into the oil and gas sector, yes, it would distinctly slow that, whether that be hydrogen, electrification, CCUS and others.

There are certainly debates over the specifics of those, where they apply and where they don't, but to think that without government supports companies would undertake that simply on their own, investors are probably unwilling to do that, and investors largely sit outside the country.

The key here is that I think we're talking about hundreds of millions or hundreds of billions of dollars when really you need international investment in the trillions of dollars to move through the changing energy use, the energy transition. The reality is that you're going to have to ensure that governments can do their part, but you do need international investment to come into all of these sectors, including my own.