Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act. I am very pleased because I was intending to speak to this two weeks ago before the Liberals brought in closure on this, but it is part of their whole plan of hypocrisy with their government. They say one thing and they do the other. For years, we heard about no more closure and how evil it is to have constant closure on debate. What they do every single chance they get when they do not like what they are hearing from the opposite side, or before they even hear from the opposite side, is bring in closure. Shame on them, but I am glad that we are able to discuss it today.
I want to correct the record. One of my colleagues across the way, the member for Winnipeg North, constantly talks about there being no pipelines built under the Conservative rule. I just want to correct that. Four were built. They are going to say that none went to tidewater. Three of the four connect to pipelines that go to tidewater. Saying that the TMX anchor that connects into Kinder Morgan that goes to Burnaby is not a pipeline that goes to tidewater is like saying that there are no flights that go from Ottawa to Vancouver because they have to connect through Toronto. They do get there. The reality is that the former Conservative government approved and had built four pipelines during our rule, three of which go directly to pipelines that go to tidewater. Therefore, I just want to correct the roll.
The Prime Minister has stood in the House many times promising to achieve both environmental salvation and unparalleled economic growth. He said his government believes that the Liberals and only the Liberals know how to bring about the true formula to achieve this seemingly oxymoronic balance of economic growth and environmental care. They dismiss the critics in the NDP as excessively environmentalist and they scoff at the Conservatives' concerns about putting arbitrary limits on business and economic development. No, they assure the economic growth and environmental communities, they know what they are doing. What better document to prove this finely calculated balance than Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act?
Let us look at some history. Alberta, being a landlocked province, is paying dearly for the situation of not having more pipelines. Our energy companies apply for pipeline permits to the faraway paradises of British Columbia, New Brunswick, and the gulf states in the U.S. Pipelines, being the safest method of transporting crude, are in short supply in Canada despite the previous government's approval and oversight of the construction of multiple new ones, as I mentioned previously. Frustrated with selling a product under market value for years, Alberta companies placed their hopes in projects such as Keystone XL, northern gateway, Kinder Morgan, and energy east. The gargantuan, bureaucratic pipeline approval process in Canada means that most of these projects had their inception in the late 2000s, before finally becoming topical today.
One by one, project by project has made its way through the National Energy Board, and one by one the projects were demonstrated to be safe. The NEB, in doing its job, attached conditions, sometimes hundreds, to the pipeline approvals but some groups were not happy. Some special interest groups did not like the fact that Alberta might get its oil to market and so began protesting. Sensing an opportunity, the activist Liberals, at the time in third-party status, captured this overblown sentiment by promising to redo the process. If people do not like the process and do not like the decision, the Liberals said, then it must be flawed. The Liberals then began a campaign of discrediting the National Energy Board for following a long-standing process that arrived at decisions that the Liberals did not like. They shamelessly accused the NEB of bias, industry favours, and lack of diligence. For many decades of its existence, the NEB was a harmless and adequate process but suddenly, with Liberal votes on the line, it became a tool of Stephen Harper, the paragon of anti-environmentalism—so said the Liberals—and thus the NEB was his way of destroying the planet.
The Liberals promised to reform the NEB to remove bias and make decisions on evidence. What is one of the first things they did? They ignored the evidence surrounding the northern gateway decision by the NEB and killed it; then, they reformed the NEB in a way that does not make the process any better but does absolutely make our process more bureaucratic, a winning formula to be sure. With a few strokes, the Liberals now watch from the sidelines as pipelines languish. Where once there was hope, we are now left relying on Keystone XL to the U.S., the very same pipeline the Prime Minister, despite his cringe-worthy bromance with President Obama, could not deliver; northern gateway, cast aside by the oil tanker moratorium, which the government wants to codify with Bill C-48; and energy east, of course left to die in the labyrinth of ever-changing rules that only apply to Alberta oil, special interests, pontification, and Liberal indecision. That will be the new NEB.
Kinder Morgan is on its way to the courts thanks to the new government in British Columbia and the lack of enthusiasm from the Prime Minister. It will spend years tied up in court, moving from one hearing to another, until, as I am sure the government hopes, the company finally relinquishes the fight and concedes defeat.
Perhaps if Kinder Morgan had named the pipeline the C Series, the Liberals would be tripping all over themselves to get it built. Oddly, the government does not realize that approved does not mean constructed. Just two weeks ago in this very House, the energy minister stood and claimed that 6,400 jobs had been created already for Keystone, even though it has not been started, and by the way it was approved by the U.S. government, not the Liberal government.
He stood here and claimed that 15,500 jobs had been created for Kinder Morgan already, despite the fact that it has not started and they are sitting idly by while this project is slowly smothered. Like the non-stop bragging about historic levels of infrastructure spending, mere announcements do not mean anything has been accomplished. Until the taps are turned on, the Prime Minister's approval is meaningless.
What should the Prime Minister do? He should champion the project. He should meet with stakeholders, press his claim and make the case for the project to go through. If he can get down to the U.S. and press President Trump for Bombardier, he can certainly do the same by heading to B.C. and pressing for Kinder Morgan.
The current government seems to forget that projects do not magically happen. Budgets do not just balance themselves, and pipelines do not magically build themselves. Most likely, the Prime Minister took a call from Gerald Butts who took a call from some angry activists in British Columbia, who were astonished that the government would ever approve something as dastardly and destructive as the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
This brings me back to Bill C-48. We expect to hear much about how the Liberals have found the formula for protecting the environment while at the same time allowing our natural resource sector to grow. They have consulted far and wide, they say. In the government's press release, the Liberals have held approximately 75 engagement sessions to discuss improvements to marine safety and formalizing the oil tanker ban. It is funny that with a number as low as 75, they have to approximate and cannot count how many they actually did.
The Liberals consulted extensively with indigenous groups, they say, and also consulted with industry stakeholders and communities across Canada. Much like their consultations on electoral reform and the small business tax attack, they only listened to a select few within the Liberal echo chamber.
Here are some other voices from the consultation, though, that the Liberals did not seem to hear. The Chamber of Shipping of B.C. suggested that the proposed moratorium:
...contradicts ...the federal government's stated approach to environmental protection: evidence-based decision making....sends a very harmful signal to the international investment community.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers argued that this proposed moratorium:
....could significantly impair Canada's oil and natural gas resources from reaching new markets....
It added that such a moratorium also prevents Canada from:
....receiving a fair market value for its resources.
The Chief's Council Eagle Spirit Energy Project, a first nations-led energy corridor proposal that has the support of the affected communities in B.C. and Alberta, has stated, on the proposed moratorium, which they say does not have their consent:
....there has been insufficient consultation....
Most interesting is the Liberals' outright ignoring of the fact-based evidence of the B.C. Coast Pilots. The B.C. Coast Pilots, who are responsible for the safe operating of ships off the coast, have some interesting facts. There has not been a single accident or oil spill with an oil freighter off the B.C. coast in over 50 years. That is not something we can say on the east coast where oddly enough we are happy to bring in oil from some of the worst human rights abusers in the world.
The B.C. Coast Pilots have an aggressive and unmatched-in-Canada safety program that has successfully protected our oceans and coastlines. At least a month before a vessel is placed on hire to come into our waters, the pilots do an extensive vetting process that includes all aspects of the vessel: safety records, crew records, past history. Any deficiencies will ensure that the vessel is not hired. This is even before the ship leaves foreign ports to come to our shores.
In addition, in the 96-hour report sent in, the Coast Guard VTS, the vessel traffic services, port state control will have all the necessary information from its last 10 ports of call, and any and all incidents will be recorded, as will all equipment deficiencies, if there are any.
Before the pilot boards, the VTS will have been provided with the deficiencies and the Transport Canada safety inspectors' report. Then, and only then, does the pilot board the vessel and is the final eyes and ears of the inspection process. The pilot will have the final say whether the ship will be put into anchor.
They have other safety standards above and beyond what I have listed, which is why they have an unblemished record with the transfer of oil on the B.C. coast over the last 50 years. That is not something we can say in regard to the east coast. Do we use the same strict measures on the east coast for oil brought into refineries in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec? No, of course we do not.
Also, let us look where we are bringing this oil into eastern Canada from. Six hundred and fifty thousand barrels a day of conflict oil is brought right into Canada off the pristine shores of the east coast. Why is there no ban on the east coast? Why is there a double standard? Is it not a case of pristine coastal shoreline is pristine coastal shoreline is pristine coastal shoreline? I guess not.
The oil that we bring in from Saudi Arabia is from a regime that is often criticized in the House for rights abuses using Canadian-made arms. The Liberals will gleefully hold that country and the oil freighters it uses to a lower safety standard than used on the B.C. coast.
Oil comes from the democratic paradise of Venezuela. This is what the foreign affairs minister had to say about our great oil supplier off the east coast: “Canada denounces and condemns today’s significant and undemocratic action by the Venezuelan regime.... robbing the Venezuelan people of their fundamental democratic rights.” The minister even applied sanctions two weeks ago against the officials responsible for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela. However, it is okay to allow its oil to come into Canada with freighters using a lower safety standard.
On the east coast, we bring in oil from Nigeria. Human Rights Watch says this of Nigeria: “Many of the grave human rights challenges he promised to address in his inauguration speech remain largely unaddressed and unresolved.” Again, that oil is subject to lower safety standards than on the west coast. Human Rights Watch continues that Angola has suffered during 2016 due to continued government repression.
I want to read a couple of quotes from people in this House about some of the countries we bring oil into Canada from. The NDP foreign affairs critic said of Saudi Arabia that “These cases once again highlight the Saudi authorities’ disregard for human rights.... Canada must stand up for its values and show leadership in defending human rights at home and abroad.” Here we are criticizing Saudi Arabia, saying our government must stand up and show its leadership and Canadian values at home and abroad, at the same time as we are banning the use of oil freighters off the north coast using Alberta oil, the most highly regulated oil extraction in the world. We are banning that, but on the east coast, which uses a lower safety standard for oil freighters, we are bringing in oil from Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. Even our NDP colleague stated this.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs states about Venezuela that “Our government deplores the actions of the Maduro regime.... [A]nd will not stand by as the Government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental rights.” She will not stand by while the government robs its people of their fundamental rights, but she will stand by to ensure that they get Canadian money for their oil. The oil industry has been nationalized in Venezuela, so every single day we bring in oil from Venezuela, we are propping up the despotic regime of Maduro. We sit in the House and criticize him, but at the same time we block Alberta oil and ensure that we enrich the thugs of the Venezuelan regime. It is absolutely shameful.
The former leader of the NDP, a man I have a lot of respect for, has said, “It does not make any sense that in Canada right now, we are importing crude oil from insecure foreign sources like Algeria and Russia, and having it refined at Valero's large refinery in Saint-Romuald across from Quebec City.” He was also commenting on the hypocrisy of the Liberals in dealing with Saudi Arabia, selling them arms and bringing in Saudi oil.
He continued, “They can emote about human rights and Canada's role in the world. What we see them...doing is selling...[arms] to one of the most gruesome, repressive regimes on the planet...Saudi Arabia.” It is one of the most repressive regimes, and yet we are happy to buy their oil, give them hard currency, and prop up their despotic regime. Again, why is bringing in oil from serial human rights abusers using lower safety standards for shipping into the east coast okay, but shipping Canadian oil from the Pacific coast using the highest safety standards not okay?
Industry believes that Bill C-48 is too heavy-handed, and first nations groups who stand to benefit from the project did not give their consent to the moratorium. Of course, environmentalist believe that the legislation does not go far enough. Social licence to them is much like the Stanley Cup to the Maple Leafs, something to be dreamed about but we know is never going to happen.
The government does not seem to get it. It writes legislation solely to satisfy foreign-funded special interest groups to chase away investment and jobs from Canada and to punish Albertans and Canadians. This legislation, Bill C-48, is the epitome of typical Liberal policy. It is too focused on special interest groups to look at real evidence, the Liberal government then capitulates, and Canadians are made to suffer for it.
I want to discuss a few letters I received from some Albertans in my constituency. It is no secret that the province has been suffering for a few years between the provincial government's carbon tax, chasing away investment, driving up costs, and driving up taxes, and the Liberal government's carbon tax and pipeline killing rules. Alberta is suffering. We have received a lot of calls to the office about some of the issues.
Since 2014, unemployment has doubled in Alberta. Over 200,000 people are unemployed, 122,000 oil workers have lost their jobs, and unemployment is near a 20-year high. Food bank usage in Edmonton alone is up 60%. According to the CFIB, 45% of Alberta business owners are looking to cut back on staffing. What do we do? We have a government that destroys pipelines and takes away the hope of getting our oil to market. Our communities and families are suffering.
I received a letter from a lady named Sharon who lives in my riding. She says:
The job crisis in Alberta affects my family...negatively. My husband lost his job last July, and is still job hunting. I'm worried because I'm the only one working in the family. It's...tough...now, and I don't know when everything goes back to normal.
I can feel for Sharon. Just last week, we held a town hall in downtown Edmonton because the member for Edmonton Centre refused to do an open town hall. We had a town hall on the business tax attack. We had well over 120 people come out and tell us about their issues. I met a young lady whose husband had just been laid off. She had been laid off as well. They could not find work so their answer was that they would create their own work, create their own jobs and go into business for themselves. Then they sit and look at the Liberal attacks on small businesses and ask us how they can do that. They have lost their jobs in the energy sector, the Liberal government is killing pipelines and killing hope. They want to go into business for themselves but now they are being attacked on that front as well. They asked how they could even hope to thrive in Alberta. It is difficult to understand how, given what the Liberal government and the NDP government in Alberta are doing, they can find help or hope, but I can trust that Albertans will pull through if anyone can.
I met a lady named Kathy who said that her husband worked for a large firm. That firm has is are continuing to lay off thousands, and it is scary living that way. A gentleman named Don contacted our office and said that the Liberal government's lack of a real plan was putting families like his further in debt with no help to recover. It is a struggle to keep up with day to day bills. A lady named Martha said that the continuing lack of employment opportunities were concerning and disheartening. She constantly worries about how she will be able to support her family. It goes on and on and on and on.
What could we do to help? A perfect example would be the superclusters we hear so much about from the Liberal government. Superclusters here, superclusters there, superclusters for everyone. The energy industry, together as a consortium, put in a bid for some of the supercluster funding. We had some of the biggest names in the energy world putting through a package to be one of the named superclusters. They put one through for energy investment, including clean energy investment, and what happened? The government passed them by in order to invest in other areas of Canada.
The government's attack on Alberta must end.
I see that I am out of time.