Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Lakeland not only for the tremendous job she is doing as a shadow minister for natural resources and taking the lead on this file, but also for the wealth of experience she brings to it having worked in the industry in the province of Alberta.
I rise today in response to Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act, a bill that will have devastating effects on our oil sands and the many jobs created as a result of that development. Once again the Liberals are playing games with Canadian jobs. Ostensibly, this act was introduced as a transportation bill. However, in practice, I believe Bill C-48 is a jobs bill or rather a job-killing bill singling out one specific sector of our economy, the oil sector, and punishing that sector irrationally. Since the Liberals formed government, they have made no attempt to hide their disdain for Canada's oil producers and the men and women who work in that field. This bill is another example of that.
Let us be clear and cut through the rhetoric. Bill C-48 is not really about banning tanker traffic; it is about banning development in the oil sands and the pipelines needed to get the product to market. Right now there is no oil flowing to the northern British Columbia coast. That means that there is no oil for tankers to load in the northern British Columbia coast identified in Bill C-48.
There could have been a northern gateway pipeline project. It was meant to run from Alberta to the northern coast of British Columbia, where our oil would have been loaded onto tankers and exported around the world. The development of a safe and efficient means of transporting our oil to the coast would have led to an economic boom in northern British Columbia, as it has in Vancouver and along the east coast. In those waters, tankers have operated safely for decades. The export of our oil would have strengthened Canada's economy by diversifying our market in the Asia-Pacific region. It would have ensured future economic stability, and it was cancelled because of politics.
Under the previous Conservative government, and through the National Energy Board, Canada had an impartial, evidence-based system that based its decisions on the viability of a project via a rigorous set of tests. These tests reviewed everything from the safety of the project to its environmental footprint to its economic impact and to its effect on our first nation communities.
The northern gateway project passed the first phase in that assessment before it was ended due to a short-sighted election promise by the Prime Minister. His action was not based on any science, but entirely on partisanship. Under the regime of Bill C-48, such a project will now be impossible.
Despite what the Liberals may say, this bill is not really about the environment. To be clear, the bill does not actually do what the Liberals claim it does. Bill C-48 does not ban tanker traffic along our coast, but merely the loading and unloading of oil tankers at our northern B.C. ports, which is currently not happening. Tankers will still operate 100 kilometres from shore, as they always have. The bill will do nothing to reduce the risk of oil spills. Quite frankly, it is 20 pages of empty symbolism on the environment, but with a real impact on the future of our Canadian economy.
In contrast to this empty symbolism, the previous Conservative government strengthened Canada's environmental regime by creating a world-class tanker safety system, including modernizing our navigation system, building marine safety capacity in first nation communities, and ensuring that any polluters pay for the clean-up and environmental impact of spills and damages.
The Conservatives pursued environmental protections based on the facts. Using those facts, we enacted real change that would protect our natural wonders, both now and tomorrow, and we achieved all of that without destroying future prosperity.
It would seem that the Prime Minister is not actually serious about reducing the impact of pollution on our planet. If he were serious about reducing pollution, he would do everything in his power to ensure that whenever possible, Canadian oil replaces oil from countries that have less stringent environmental protection regimes.
The fact is Canadian producers are subject to far more oversight and regulation. Environmental standards in Canada are much higher than the majority of other oil-producing nations'. Our oil production sites are cleaner. Our air is cleaner. This is no random accident. It is a consequence of our strong standards. Canada is a world leader on clean oil production and has been for decades.
Instead of basing their decision on these facts, the Liberals prioritize their anti-oil bias over science, over evidence and, most importantly, over people. That is what the bill is about. It is actually about people.
For no discernible reason, with no due diligence, the Liberals are damaging Canada's economic security. The hundreds of thousands of middle-class Canadians who work or hope to work in the oil and gas sector will see this news as another blow to their future prosperity.
This is not only about Canadians who work directly in this sector, nor is it simply an issue in western Canada. The implications of this legislation along with the partisan decision to end northern gateway will not only be felt in western Canada. It will be felt by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. At least 670,000 Canadians are employed directly or indirectly by our oil and gas sectors. Over 80,000 of them call Ontario home. Over 25,000 are Québecois. This sector is Canada's largest private industry investor.
The Liberals unilateral symbolic decision to ban tanker traffic on British Columbia's northern coast will be felt all the way to the St. Lawrence River and beyond. These businesses employ middle-class Canadians who have become constant targets of the Liberal government. They are already preparing to deal with the unfair tax hikes proposed by the Prime Minister, which will damage our competitiveness worldwide. They will be further disheartened to see yet another opportunity ripped from their grasp by the Liberal government.
If I did not know better, I might think the Liberal government is intentionally sabotaging Canadian jobs.
Perhaps the hardest hit in all of this are our first nations. With the tanker ban, and before that the cancellation of northern gateway, first nations in British Columbia and Alberta are losing out on an estimated $2 billion equity windfall. Thirty-one first nations equity partners supported northern gateway, holding a 30% stake in the project. Those first nations knew that the pipeline would bring jobs to their communities and they hoped that prosperity would follow. Without any consultation, the Prime Minister took that opportunity from them. The Prime Minister's symbolic ban on tanker traffic and cancellation of northern gateway will have real effects on real people.
Millions of dollars that could have gone to first nation communities and the families they represent will now never reach them. The affected communities could have used this money for schools, housing, infrastructure, job creation, or any of a hundred other purposes. But no, that will not happen, all because the Prime Minister does not like the oil sands. Perhaps if some of the money from northern gateway went to building sheds to store canoes, the Prime Minister would have supported it.
I must again draw members' attention to what this legislation would really do, or rather what it would not do. Nowhere does this legislation actually ban tankers from operating off of our west coast. Nowhere does it add anything to our already stringent environmental standards. Nowhere does it reduce risks.
Originally I thought I was only going to have 10 minutes to speak to the bill, but apparently it is up to Conservative members to carry the day on so many of the pieces of legislation the government has been introducing. Members of the Liberal Party, the NDP, the Green Party, and even the Bloc may have an opportunity to pose many questions of those of us who are participating in this debate.
While I do not have a crystal ball, I have a premonition that their questions to me will revolve around four topics. I think the first topic will be on the environment.
As I have said, Bill C-48 would do nothing for the preservation of British Columbia's environment. Ships, including U.S. tankers travelling from Alaska to Washington State, would continue to be able to travel up and down the coast just outside the 100-kilometre limit I mentioned. As I said, this is a pipeline moratorium under a different name.
Further, Canadian oil is extracted and transported under some of the safest and most environmentally strict regulations in the world. Preventing our Canadian oil resources from reaching customers in other countries only serves to proliferate the use of all products extracted and transported in a less safe and environmentally-friendly way. The strange contradiction we see with the Liberals, NDPs, Greens, and Bloc's views on Canadian oil is that their opposition to it defeats their supposed greater goal of protecting the world's environment.
The second question I anticipate from Liberal members in this place will be around the fact that this promise was contained in the Liberals' 2015 election platform.
The Liberals' 2015 election platform is basically a list of broken promises. The Liberal platform was not worth the paper on which it was printed. We have seen considerable willingness, if not eagerness, on the part of the Liberal government to break promises made in its election platform.
I will highlight a few of the broken promises from the Liberals' election platform.
First, there was a commitment to run only modest deficits of $10 billion. Well, we now know that promise was a complete joke. The Liberal government blew past that proposed limit faster than the Road Runner.
Then we had the disingenuous and overreaching promise that 2015 would be the last election under first past the post system. It is amazing when we think about the absolute arrogance that was embedded in that promise.
The third topic I anticipate members of the other parties will pose to me will be around the opinions of first nations. I know I touched upon this, but it bears repeating.
There is considerable support among first nations on B.C.'s coast for energy development opportunities. In fact, it is not just on B.C.'s coast. According to the Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, 500 of the 630 first nations across Canada are open to pipeline and petroleum development on their land.
As I mentioned, 31 first nations were equity partners, holding a 30% financial position in the northern gateway pipeline project. For the Liberals to move forward with this tanker moratorium without properly consulting coastal first nations is absolutely hypocritical. We know they did not consult because we know this was in the minister's mandate letter. He was directed to put this moratorium in place without any consultation. The Liberals only consult when it is to get the result they seek. They have no interest in dissenting or contrary views.
Finally, we have the Liberal government's much aligned proposals on open and transparent government. I could go on, but I do not want to use the rest of my time embarrassing the government with these facts.
To conclude on this point, to say their platform commitments are binding would be the height of hypocrisy from the Liberals.
The final subject on which I anticipate members of the other parties to pose questions to me on probably will revolve around pipelines or pipeline approvals. As I said earlier, this is not a tanker moratorium bill; this is a pipeline moratorium bill. The Prime Minister and the Government of Canada must champion pipeline development or pipeline projects will never be completed.
Approving one pipeline but not the other is only a partial solution to improving market access for western Canada's energy producers. Additionally, pipelines are the safest means of transporting oil that is already being produced and moved, yet is appears the Liberals and NDP would rather it be moved in a less safe manner.
The bill would only serve to undercut the future prosperity of Canadians in Quebec, British Columbia, first nation communities, and all throughout our country. I am left with only one question. Why does the Prime Minister care more about empty symbolism than about the prosperity of Canada's middle class?