Mr. Speaker, it really is a pleasure for me to rise today in our House of Commons to speak in defence of Canada's energy sector, a sector that is very important to me personally and very important to my constituency. It is our energy sector that brought my grandfather to Alberta. He was there during the first national energy program. Unfortunately, now we are living through what looks very much like the second iteration of the national energy program. I will speak to that a little bit later on.
The energy sector is deeply important to me as well as to my constituency. My constituency is called Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, but it covers Canada's industrial heartland. It is a hub of energy-related manufacturing.
It is interesting to hear some members, such as the leader of the Green Party, suggest that somehow we have to make a choice between upgrading energy-related manufacturing and pipelines, when, in fact, people in the energy sector in my region say that we can and we should look for opportunities to do more of both. We need those pipelines to export, regardless of whether we are exporting final product or an earlier-stage product. There are opportunities, as well, to develop our upgrading and refining capacity, certainly. We see those opportunities being developed in my constituency, directly in our industrial heartland.
It is the policies of the government, such as its carbon tax, its attack on small business, and the general uncertainty around the regulatory environment, that are killing not only the transportation section of the energy sector, not only the extractive sector, but also the value-added and upgrading section of the energy sector.
There was an American journalist named Michael Kinsley who once quipped that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. I think this is an interesting quote. That might be rephrased a little to say that a gaffe is when politicians say what they actually think.
When we look at some of the comments that have been made by ministers and by the Prime Minister about the energy sector or various other issues, oftentimes some of these one-off comments are dismissed as gaffes or mistakes, or we are told, “Don't worry, the tweet was deleted; he offered a clarification”, or whatever the case may be.
However, when we start to see a pattern when comments are made, it is worth reflecting on this Kinsley quote. These are gaffes in the sense that these are cases when people are actually letting the curtain slip and are showing what their real agenda is with respect to our energy sector.
For example, we have, in this House, the Minister of Democratic Institutions, who, ironically perhaps, sits right beside the Minister of Natural Resources. She tweeted, in 2012, “It's time to landlock Alberta's tar sands.”
That is pretty offensive language, but this came from someone who is now a minister in this government, saying, “It's time to landlock Alberta's tar sands.” The clarification was issued. The tweet was deleted. However, now this person is sitting in cabinet, and it makes people wonder what her views are with respect to Alberta's energy sector. Actually, we do not really have to wonder, because she has told us what her views are with respect to the energy sector.
We had the Prime Minister say, more recently, that it is time to phase out Canada's oil sands. He made a comment once that he thinks Canada does not do well when we have people from my part of the country in key leadership positions.
These kinds of comments that are very derogatory towards Alberta, and in particular suggest an opposition to energy development and a desire to landlock our energy resources, are sometimes characterized as mistakes or gaffes. However, I think, actually, that they are quite revealing. They are gaffes in the sense that there are moments when the curtain slips and the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet actually say things they really, truly believe.
What was the agenda the minister in question had in mind when she said, “landlock Alberta's tar sands”? Of course, we say oil sands, but that is the quote.
We had two new pipeline projects within Canada, and there were other pipeline expansion projects. There was the pipeline through the United States, the Keystone XL, but two new pipeline projects to tidewater were proposed within Canada, one going west and one going east. At the time of the last election, the pipeline going west, the northern gateway pipeline, had been approved. The pipeline going east, energy east, was in process. If they were trying to do what the minister said she wanted to do, which is landlock our energy resources, I guess they would have to come up with a way of killing these two pipeline projects. The Liberals have done it. Today, one of those projects has been killed directly; one has been killed indirectly.
We have a tweet from a minister in 2012 that the objective is to “landlock Alberta's tar sands”, and here we are five years later. The Liberals are in government and she is cabinet, and it has happened. We had a gaffe where the agenda was revealed, and now the agenda has come to fruition. Unfortunately, the Liberals have taken steps to landlock our energy resources. We have seen this, and it is hard to deny that this is happening.
I want to highlight a number of other examples where the Prime Minister made comments that were perhaps explained away or qualified, or referred to as a slip of the tongue or a gaffe at the time, but revealed something fundamental about the way in which he sees the world. He said in an interview during the election that, in his view, many small businesses are ways for wealthy Canadians to avoid paying taxes. That is what the Prime Minister said. I do not know how many people took that comment seriously. However, with the punitive measures that have since been proposed toward small business, it looks like the Prime Minister believes we should go after and punish small businesses because they are a way for wealthy people to avoid paying taxes. That seems to be the Prime Minister's view. He expressed that view in an interview with Peter Mansbridge during the last election, and now he is undertaking punitive measures against those businesses.
He also said that he admires China's basic dictatorship, and he has gone on to pursue policies with respect to China that concern many Canadians. He has gone on to govern this country in a particularly autocratic way, trying at every possible turn to limit the input of the opposition members. We had two opposition speakers in the traditional period allowed for this debate before Liberals shut it down. We are only now able to have further conversations about this legislation because of a motion we are putting forward on an aspect of the committee's study, and travel related to that committee's study.
In each of these cases, where these gaffes or comments from the Prime Minister or from ministers were portrayed as a mistake, they revealed something quite fundamental to what appears to be the world view of the Prime Minister and members of the government.
Again, a comment was made by a minister saying that they wanted to landlock Alberta's energy resources, and effectively they have killed the two new pipeline projects proposed to tidewater within Canada. The bill that is being considered in terms of committee study at the moment is Bill C-48, which deals with tanker export from northern British Columbia. As soon as the government took office, Liberals instituted a ban on energy oil export from northern B.C. They have killed the northern gateway pipeline, and now they are formalizing this through legislation, which they are calling the oil tanker moratorium act.
Let us be quite clear, though, about what this legislation would and would not do. Once we lay it out, it will be quite obvious to members that this is only about killing off energy exports in the west. It is not fundamentally about tankers, because tankers take oil in and out of the country, and between different jurisdictions along our coast. There are oil tankers that come into the St. Lawrence. There are oil tankers that bring oil in and export oil off Canada's east coast. Certainly, if there were ever a spill from an Alaskan oil tanker carrying American oil, it would not discriminate. It would not somehow fail to touch the Canadian coast, and yet what the government is proposing would only deal with oil produced in Canada, and the ability to export it out of northern British Columbia specifically.
I would take the view that we should do everything possible to ensure good safety standards and to do away with any risks of a negative environmental impact, but ultimately recognize that by taking a leadership role and setting those standards and then benefiting from them economically through the export of Canadian oil, we really achieve a win-win situation. If the alternative is the export of other countries' oil, the non-development of our energy resources and, potentially, a greater environmental risk insofar as we are missing an opportunity for setting standards for our own oil exports, that alternative policy pursued by the current government is a lose-lose situation. It is a loss for the economy certainly, but also a loss for the environment.
At least we have to give the Liberals credit for acting directly in the case of the northern gateway pipeline. They did not seek to hide it. They said they were going to kill it and they killed it, and they are bringing in legislation that would formalize that. At least they were up front and direct. That is not much of a defence of it. It is the wrong policy. It is bad for jobs. It would kill opportunity in B.C., Alberta, and throughout the rest of the country because we are economically interconnected, but we can say that at least they have been direct about it
They have not been so direct with the energy east pipeline. Many people in the Maritimes voted Liberal, hoping that they would see the energy east pipeline come to fruition, and many members of the Atlantic caucus would have said they were supportive of energy east. Meanwhile, we had other members—and here I refer especially to the tweet by the member for Burlington, the Minister of Democratic Institutions—talking about wanting to land-lock Alberta's energy resources. We had other members with this agenda, the Prime Minister's agenda, of phasing out the oil sands. However, because of how popular energy east was, not just in Alberta but also in Atlantic Canada and many places in-between, they realized they could not kill it directly but would have to pursue some other strategy for achieving their objectives one at a time, which they were actually quite frank about before they deleted the tweet I mentioned.
Consequently, the Liberals introduced all kinds of regulatory hurdles and additional regulatory uncertainty and they tried to build in the idea that a project should be evaluated on prospective down-stream emissions. It would not just be the direct emissions from the use of that particular piece of infrastructure, but the prospective emissions that would eventually derive from it. This is a standard that notably is not applied anywhere else. We do not force aircraft manufacturers to be accountable for the subsequent likely greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of their aircraft in the future. We do not do this for cars. We do not do this in any kind of manufacturing. We look at the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process, but we do not say that the manufacturers have to be accountable for all of the subsequent downstream emissions. This was a unique, unusual standard, and ultimately turned out to be an impossible one for energy east.
The government's response to the understandable decision of the company, in this case not to proceed with energy east, is to say that it is a business decision. For one thing, it points to oil prices. Companies understand that oil prices go up and down. No company decides to build a pipeline based on the price of oil on Monday, saying the price is good so let us build that pipeline. If it is down on Tuesday, it does not know. Companies are smart and sophisticated enough to realize that oil prices go up and down over time. They have to consider the overall situation, the overall environment, the probability of getting to a yes, and being able to proceed. It is not just about what the price of oil happens to be on Monday. That is a rather ridiculous suggestion from the Minister of Natural Resources.
Then the Liberals say it is a business decision, that Sisyphus just could not push the stone all the way, that it was too heavy for him. The task was set up in a way that success was likely impossible. There certainly was no credible certainty around it. We need a government that actually is looking for ways to get to a yes, to ensure the proper consultation happens, but not set up sort of a Sisyphean task, as in one that cannot be realized. It is clear from the debate in the House that is what is envisioned by the opponents of energy development. They do not want to say that they are opposed to energy east, but they want to kill it directly by coming up with all of these ambiguous, unclear criteria that make success impossible.
It is particularly clear from the exchange I just had with the member for Beloeil—Chambly what social licence is. He said that we had to get to social licence in order to get these things done. I then asked him what social licence would look like, because it surely could not be unanimity. We are never going to get unanimity on any question. People are not even unanimous in the belief that Elvis has died. We are not going to get unanimity on any question.