Mr. Speaker, I will thank the foreign affairs minister. I know sometimes he travels abroad and thinks that he is so far away that he has to shout all of his comments back to Canada. However, we are here in the House of Commons, not 15 feet apart. I can hear everything he has to say, and I will look forward to his questions.
The using of a baseball bat for diplomacy, as the Prime Minister has done, has made it more difficult to approve the projects he is hoping to get approved in the United States. In a question and comment earlier to my friends, I asked them to imagine a scenario wherein a U.S. president comes to Canada to an economic forum in Toronto, to speak to the business community and the people of Canada, and when discussing a contentious project, 95% of which was based in Canada, said, “We will not take no for an answer on this project. If Canada says no for legitimate science-based reasons or social justice reasons, we're simply not going to accept it, as the United States of America”. The hue and cry from our Prime Minister, the Canadian people and the foreign affairs minister would be heard throughout the land, because how dare a U.S. president threaten us that way? We will take care of our own domestic affairs.
How about we allow the Americans to do the same thing? I know it helps the newspapers and television stations in Washington to have all the ad revenue coming from the current government and the Government of Alberta, pumping and promoting this project. Ironically, I was at an oil and gas session organized by the first nations in Prince George just a few weeks ago, where the national resources minister got up and had the audacity and incredibility to say that his government does not promote projects like Keystone or Enbridge northern gateway. The Conservatives do not promote them; rather, they just buy ads for them. They run down to Washington, banging them over the head in New York. They stand in our communities saying, “You have to; we insist.” They change all the laws in order to make the economic and environmental evaluating processes for these projects a sham. They make it a rubber-stamp process. However, the government does not actually promote them.
We know for a fact that this particular project creates jobs in the United States. I met with a Texas congressman who has become a friend. He is a Republican and a decent fellow, who my friends would get along with so well. Back in 2008, we had a nice meeting in Washington. At one point he said, “This whole Keystone thing, let me get it straight. Is your government actually promoting this pipeline?” He asked that because the refineries that would take all of this raw bitumen and upgrade it are based in his constituency. I said, “Yes, Congressman, the Canadian government's current position is to promote this project”. He said, “I want you to take a message home to my Canadian friends. Tell them this. If the roles were reversed and we had the oil sands and y'all had the refineries, it would be over my dead body that we would allow the raw export of our natural wealth to your country to have all the jobs created”—I think he said “y'all”.
The Conservatives now believe that all those refinery and upgrading jobs are not real jobs. They believe that the temporary pipeline jobs are real jobs, that the jobs that happen once are real but those others are not.
That is what the Conservatives just said, verbatim, that those are real jobs. Tell that to the people in the forestry industry, the fishing industry and the mining industry, and anybody who works in an upgrading facility, anybody who works in a plant that takes the natural wealth and endowment of this country and does something with it. Tell them they are not in real jobs.
I think it was actually a salient and transparent moment for the government, because by its policies, that is exactly what it thinks of those jobs that add value to our natural resources. That is what has happened to those jobs under the Conservative government. We have lost 350,000 of those manufacturing and upgrading jobs since the government took office. That is a fact.
The government is entitled to its opinions, but not its own facts. The facts of the matter are that it simply does not care. The government does not think those are real jobs.
The government talks about opening secondary markets and feeding the U.S. market. Let us understand that this is a generational decision. These pipelines are generational. They are not built for 5 or 10 years; they are built for 40, 50 or 60 years, which is also some of the problem.
My friends talk about how safe pipelines are and that they never leak. They should tell that to the people in Kalamazoo. That is what Enbridge said. It has been cited 115 times by the EPA. It said that, scientifically, this pipeline was in trouble, and this Canadian company said, “Never mind; we are just going to keep running the oil through”.
All those people lost their houses and got sick because of a company from this country and because of a government in this country that does not think regulations matter and that thinks industry can just watch itself. The Americans named it properly when they called it the Keystone Kops. That is how Enbridge was running it.
These are the same companies that spill here in Canada as well. There have been 850 spills since 2001; significant spills, not trickles. Often they are found by hunters and trappers out in the bush who notice that they are standing in a bunch of muck out in the muskeg and that is not quite right. What is it? It is oil that has been leaking for who knows how long.
The idea that a Canadian government would stand up for the exporting of 40,000 value-added jobs is anathema to me. It is contrary to Canadian values.
If a government ran on some slogan about standing up for Canada, one would assume it meant standing up for Canada, and that it would stand up for Canada and Canadian jobs. No, that is not what the government does. The numbers do not lie.
To my friends across the way, the comments about a “no-brainer” from their strategic genius leader and “we will not take no for an answer” do not make their case. That sounds tough. The boys in the patch like that. The oil executives like that tough-guy stuff from the fake cowboy across the way who grew up in Toronto. That is what they like. They want the sense that the sheriff is in town and he is going to tell those Yanks what for. That does not work.
It actually makes it harder for the President and the administration to approve the project, because now it looks as if he is being bullied. It does not help when the government denies the existence of climate change, year after year. When it finally accepts the science, it does nothing about it. That is not me saying that; that is the Environment Commissioner saying that the government does not understand the implications of the science in climate change. It does not have any programs that are ready to go, that will actually reduce the carbon footprint.
All of those things make it so much easier to get a no. When Canada flips off at the international community time and time again, it makes things harder, not easier. Maybe the government thinks being tough is what it is all about, but it is not.
Now we know, because it has been our history and it must be our future, that the basic and fundamental principle in this country, which is so rich, so diverse and endowed with so much wealth in our natural resources, should be to respect the environment and to actually treat with first nations for rights, title and accommodation, to gain the social licence at the community level and create the jobs that those resources have created for generations.
Yet we have a government that is wedded to an ideology that says that is not its role. That is not the government's role. The government's role is to build the biggest rubber stamp it can and stamp everything that comes in front of it, regardless of what the actual prospects say. When someone comes along and says there is a pipeline that will take 40,000 jobs out of Canada, and Alberta will move from upgrading as much as 60% of the bitumen out of the oil sands down to about a third and dropping, the government's saying it has no part in that conversation is not standing up for Canadian values.
That is not a government standing up for Canada. We need one that will. We need one that understands the balance between the environment and the economy and understands that these resources only happen once. We can only take the oil out of the ground once. By definition, it is not renewable, so let us do it right. Let us have environmental considerations. Let us get the social licence from the community. For heaven's sake, let us create the jobs that have built this country from day one.