That, given this time of economic uncertainty, the House: (a) recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy and support its development in an environmentally sustainable way; (b) agree that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil; (c) acknowledge the desire for the Energy East pipeline expressed by the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick; and (d) express its support for the Energy East pipeline currently under consideration.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for reading that important motion. I will be sharing my time this morning with the member for Beauce.
I am very happy and proud not only to be able to stand and speak to this motion but to be part of the Conservative Party, the opposition that stands up for those in Alberta, stands up for those in western Canada, stands up for jobs right across this country. That is what this motion is meant to do, certainly to encourage the government to do the same thing. However, we as Conservatives want Albertans and Canadians to know that we will always stand up for their interests, will stand up for Canadian resources, and will stand up for Canadian oil. I am very happy to be able to speak to this.
We really had hoped, when we first put this motion together, that there would be a chance the Liberals might support it, and we would be very pleased if they would support it, not only with their vote but, even more importantly, with their actions. Sadly, yesterday, it became very clear that the government does not understand the importance of the energy sector to Canada's economic strength. The government does not understand that investment and confidence come directly when Canada has a government that is certain of it policy and when there is stability in its policy, which then translates into stability and predictability for sectors like oil and gas.
The government does not seem to understand that when it chooses to ignore the jobs and economic opportunity that come when Canadian energy has the same access to market that the energy of the United States and other countries has, the jobs and opportunities grow. The government's ideological opposition to the fundamental infrastructure that oil needs to access markets safely, frankly, is disturbing. Its ideology is putting Canada at an unfair disadvantage. Liberals are intent on undermining the National Energy Board and intent on putting roadblocks in the way of pipelines being built in the near future.
I wish there was better news today. I wish there was better news for Albertans. I wish there was better news for Canadians overall. However, sadly, the manner and the pattern that the government is showing is very worrisome. It is a pattern of disregard and what would appear to be undervaluing of the natural resources sector, specifically the oil and gas sector in Canada. The decisions Liberals are making and the actions they are undertaking are showing that undervaluing of the energy sector and the oil and gas industry in Canada.
Liberals are undervaluing the men and women who work to get our resources out of the ground and the men and women who work to get our resources to market. Those are both things that we can be very proud of in Canada. The men and women who are working in the oil patch in Canada can be proud because here in Canada we have the most sustainable, clean, responsible way of extracting natural resources, not only because of the strong regulations that our government put in place but because Canada is a country of freedom, of equality, where women's rights, gay rights, human rights, religious freedoms, and labour laws are strong and rigorous. That means that Canadian oil is taken out of the ground and exported in a way that all Canadians can be proud of; and on this side of the House we are immensely proud of that.
There is a worrisome pattern that has developed very shortly after the arrival of the new government. First of all, the Prime Minister made some comments in Davos that maybe were meant to be clever but really were very telling. He said we do not want to be known as a resource country but rather as a country of resourcefulness. At this point in time that is not the watered-down message that Canadians are looking for and not what the natural resource sector is looking for. That was worrisome.
Earlier on, even before that, right after the election, the government announced a moratorium on tanker traffic in northern B.C. The effect of that was a severe body blow to the northern gateway pipeline; again very disturbing. Recently, the government is refusing to stand up for energy east, refusing to make the statement that in principle it would support pipelines. It is worrisome, because Liberals are not afraid to stand up for other types of infrastructure or support other types of infrastructure in principle. However, for some reason, they have a very difficult time saying that pipelines are a good thing for Canadian oil.
Now, just yesterday, they announced another layer, another process, another roadblock in the form of additional approvals. This time it would appear that approvals would be by the ministers themselves.
The announcement they made was really very short. It was a two-pager background—well, it was really a page of background, not even two pages. We have a number of questions, to which we are hoping we can get answers, with respect to the announcement that was made yesterday. There was a bit of confusion as to whether the new assessments by Environment Canada would include upstream. We understand it will include upstream. However, there was confusion as to whether downstream would be included. There needs to be some clarity on that.
There was talk about a ministerial representative who would be part of this environmental assessment; so we understand the bureaucracy, the department, would be doing a parallel environmental assessment. However, there would be what appears to be political representation. There are some large concerns we have about that, and I would think industry would also have them. There are also concerns about what role the proponents would play in that assessment. Would they have any input? Would they be able to look at it, or would it be just a parallel process?
The government's saying it wants to provide certainty in a very uncertain time actually has caused more uncertainty and more questions.
Yesterday's announcement certainly did not give any kind of glimmer of hope, as we have termed it, for those in the oil and gas industry.
I think we should highlight the economic benefit that oil and gas brings to Canada.
Natural resources alone produce 20% of nominal GDP. That is the entire natural resources sector. About half of that comes directly from the energy sector, so about 10% comes directly from oil and gas. That is in comparison with about 6.7% GDP that comes from agriculture. My riding in southern Manitoba has strong agricultural producers. We understand agriculture's importance, and none of us shy away from defending it. We produce the best food in the world here in Canada. When we were in government, we were so proud to open up markets and support our agricultural sector, which is about 6.7 % of GDP.
Gas and oil is more than that. It is about 10%. We should be just as proud to say that we produce the best oil in the world in the most responsible way. We should be supporting oil and gas, just as we support agriculture. On this side of the House, proudly, we do. We stand up for the sectors both in the Prairies and in western Canada.
There are 1.8 million jobs in the natural resources sector, with about 300,000 in the energy sector, specifically. We know a lot of those jobs are in certain regions, such as Alberta, and New Brunswick would benefit greatly from energy east. They are looking for energy east to be built. The mayors, the municipal leaders, have spoken about how important it is. We know, economically, the jobs that are created right across the country.
Safety is something that has been talked about by the government. It has talked about how important it is to have public support and to have public confidence in the safety process. It almost seems that when it says there is public confidence, it has created its own narrative. It is a bit disturbing because the more the government says it, obviously, the more it is repeated.
However, the evidence actually is not there that there is some huge outcry that the public does not support pipelines. We know there are certain interest groups that do not support pipelines and never ever will support pipelines. In fact, many of them sit on the opposite side, on the government, where they said they do not think that natural resources should be extracted and there should be no more pipelines.
Let us talk about a reasonable, balanced approach and talk about pipeline safety.
First, let me just state this, to put it into perspective. We believe that all infrastructure projects should be developed in a responsible way. All infrastructure projects have assessments that they need to go through. Most infrastructure projects have to have some community involvement.
I live in Ottawa, as many of my colleagues do. The LRT is being built right now and there is a lot of noise going on, and the LRT folks are still consulting with the community to talk about the impact that the LRT is having on the people who live right downtown. However, nobody would say that, as a government, they are never going to support rapid transit because not all of the consultation has been done. That is ridiculous.
Of course governments support the idea of rapid transit, and of course governments should support the idea of pipelines and Canadian pipelines being built. Therefore, infrastructure requires a regulatory oversight, community involvement, and all of those important things.
For some reason, though, the Liberal government can support all kinds of infrastructure but it cannot support pipelines. We need to be on the same playing field as our U.S. partners. The U.S. is lifting exports. It is building pipelines. It is not talking about a carbon tax. We need to get behind oil in Canada. We need to get behind energy east and support the jobs that it creates and the economic opportunity.