That, given the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest, will create jobs and provide provinces with access to global markets, the House call on the Prime Minister to prioritize the construction of the federally-approved Trans Mountain Expansion Project by taking immediate action, using all tools available; to establish certainty for the project, and to mitigate damage from the current interprovincial trade dispute, tabling his plan in the House no later than noon on Thursday, February 15, 2018.
Madam Speaker, I will share my time today with the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
I proudly stand with the hard-working Canadians who are waiting to get to work building the Trans Mountain expansion, waiting to start their next, higher-paying technical job so they can give even more to their families and to their communities. I proudly stand with investors and industry waiting to get answers from the government, to be permitted the opportunity to invest billions in Canada's economy to allow all of Canada to reap billions of dollars in rewards.
I moved this motion with every intention and all anticipation that it would receive the unanimous support of the House. The pipeline is in the national interest. The expansion would create jobs and provide provinces with access to global markets, but it has not been built yet. It has not even started, and no one seems to know when it will get built.
The time has come for the Prime Minister to take action. If federal approval for a project that is in the national interest means as little as it appears, it is now up to the Prime Minister to take sufficient next steps to ensure that federal approval of this national project under federal jurisdiction actually matters and that this pipeline actually gets built.
It is more important than ever, because the only other pipelines that would have reached tidewater and expanded Canadian markets were killed. Energy east was killed by changing the rules and red tape, and northern gateway was vetoed by the Prime Minister for political gain despite federal approval under the same rigorous process as Trans Mountain and despite the 31 first nations equity partnerships that were lost.
The oil and gas industry provides billions in tax revenue for important social programs. It directly and indirectly employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians in every part of the country. It provides the means to a better life for every Canadian. Without this expansion, Canada's key, almost only, customer is the U.S. Canada is a captive merchant, and our oil prices suffer directly as a result. It is an acute problem, because the U.S. is now Canada's biggest competitor in oil and gas, securing its own domestic energy production and supply while flooding world markets.
Let us review how we got to today. Six years ago, in 2012, Kinder Morgan said that it had received sufficient interest from oil shippers and that its projected demand required greater volume of product than the existing Trans Mountain pipeline could support.
In order to ensure that the capital funding would be in place to support that expansion, Kinder Morgan secured 15- and 20-year commitments from its shippers, including Canadian industry giants Cenovus and Suncor. Within one month, it had applied to the National Energy Board for approval of the overall contract and toll structure. A year and a half later, at the end of 2013, Trans Mountain filed its 15,000-page expansion application with the NEB. The NEB responded with a list of over 1,500 participants for hearings. The hearings got under way, and Kinder Morgan responded to more than 400 questions from the NEB and more than 17,000 questions from the participants in the hearings. A key component of those hearings was the contribution of traditional indigenous knowledge. That was in December 2013.
Twenty-nine months later, in May 2016, after a thorough and comprehensive scientific, technical, and environmental assessment, the strongest in the world, the NEB recommended the approval of the expansion, declaring it in the national interest. The recommendation for approval was contingent upon the successful fulfillment of 157 conditions, which apply to every aspect of the pipeline physically and temporally, before construction, during construction, during operation, and eventually to abandonment, addressing environmental protection, safety, emissions, marine and other ecological protection, prevention and emergency response capabilities, and the various communities impacted directly by the expansion.
Six months later, after yet another review of upstream emissions and an additional federal report on consultations requested by the Liberals, the Prime Minister finally approved it. Conservatives supported the approval but warned that approval was one thing and getting it built was another.
The NEB awarded a certificate of public convenience and necessity to allow construction and operation of the expansion. Since December 2016, Kinder Morgan has continued to comply with and fulfill the 157 conditions. It continues to engage with stakeholders and monitor environmental considerations. It was supposed to have started construction five months ago, but delays continue.
First were the City of Burnaby's delaying tactics. The city is along the expansion route, with a terminal enlargement as part of the project, and it is the permitting authority within its borders. It required Kinder Morgan to obtain preliminary plan approvals and tree cutting permits. Just as the city attempted to thwart Kinder Morgan's work on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel, it likewise attempted to use its permitting system to delay the expansion. In June 2017, Kinder Morgan applied for the required permits from the city, and finally in October 2017 it was forced to ask the NEB for relief. Two months later, only three months ago, the NEB responded and Kinder Morgan continued its work.
However, now it is delayed again, by the B.C. NDP, which claims that certain studies on the product that has been flowing through the existing pipelines for decades are still required, and that without those studies industry and government are necessarily underequipped to respond to a diluted bitumen spill. Those studies would take years to complete.
It is amazing that the Prime Minister did not anticipate this attack on Trans Mountain, since the B.C. NDP openly campaigned on killing it. Even more amazing is the fact that the Prime Minister did not bother to bring up the expansion with the newly elected B.C. NDP premier. That was just the beginning of the Prime Minister's failure to lead, since he has been MIA on Trans Mountain ever since.
Regarding the B.C. NDP's claims about the product, dilbit has been studied and researched thoroughly, both before it was ever put in a pipeline and ever since. I want to be clear. What I am not saying is that industry and academics know all they need and that no more research should be done on dilbit. What I am saying is that a very large body of research already exists, providing a solid foundation on which Canadian industry may confidently invest in critical capital energy infrastructure, and Canadians can be confident in the safety and the risk mitigation of the expansion. I know that in 2015 the Royal Society issued a report calling for additional research into the effects of an accidental release, but it is also true that many other reports and studies have built an existing body of research and literature that can reassure Canadians and educate industry.
Canada's energy industry is the nation leader in self-improvement, study, innovation, research and development, and precautionary spending. It plans and researches every conceivable problem in advance, to be prepared for when an accidental spill occurs. Canadians do not expect oil and gas companies to never have an accidental spill, because that would be unreasonable, but they do expect, rightly, that these companies be held accountable and be well equipped to deal with any such occurrences.
This expansion must be completed in order to allow Trans Mountain to ship products to its markets. The four key destinations reinforce the importance and urgency of the expansion. Currently, refined product is shipped to Kamloops and Burnaby for use within B.C. Crude product is shipped in part to Washington state through the interconnection at Sumas with the Puget Sound pipeline, where it connects with four other pipelines connecting to refineries. The remaining crude product is refined in Burnaby or exported through the Westridge Marine Terminal. Westridge is a key terminal because it allows for Aframax-size tankers to deliver to markets in Hawaii and the U.S. west coast, but most importantly to Asia-Pacific and India. If the expansion is built, Canada can be a provider of the most environmentally and socially responsible oil to meet the exponentially growing demand in those regions for decades to come.
The expansion is entirely focused on reaching new export markets and expanding the existing Canadian export market share, because it is going to carry unrefined products, which are aimed at export markets, not necessarily for domestic use or even for refining in the American Pacific northwest. That access, of course, is only one aspect of the determination that the pipeline is in the national interest. The Conservatives have long advocated that industry and the environment are two sides of the same coin. Canadians must have industry to work, innovate, build, invest, and profit, but they also must steward and protect the environment: air quality, water, land, and habitat. One cannot take precedence over the other. Government must strike that balance and protect the public interest.
The Trans Mountain expansion was assessed under the previous approval process, with the 157 conditions for approval, and was accepted by the Liberals. I must note condition 5, which states that unless the NEB directs otherwise prior to September 30, 2021, the certificate authorizing the construction will expire unless construction has commenced by that date. The year 2021 may seem like a long time from now, but it has been five months since construction was supposed to have started, and Trans Mountain is still at risk. It has not been allowed to put shovels in the ground. Therefore, I cannot help but wonder whether the reason the Prime Minister is sitting on his hands and failing to get involved and lead is that he is just waiting for the clock to run out.
The real deadline is when Trans Mountain decides that the likelihood of success is too small, but it recently announced that it is committed to the long haul. It is not going anywhere, and it expects to get this expansion built. This is embarrassing. It is embarrassing because Canadian energy investors feel compelled to affirm that in spite of all the delays, the uncertainty, the prospect of eventual failure, and the enemies on all sides, they are still trying to get the project built to benefit all of Canada. That is what energy investment in Canada looks like under the Liberals and under the current Prime Minister's failure of leadership.
The remaining conditions require Kinder Morgan to complete extensive assessments of environmental impacts, community engagement, and feedback, ensuring that all stakeholders and affected persons have been consulted and that their feedback has been implemented into the overall plan. That is especially and particularly true for the impacted indigenous communities. Kinder Morgan recognizes the unique nature of coastal indigenous communities, and it added a number of additional indigenous groups to its consultations.
I urge every member of the House to vote in favour of this motion. If we do not, then who will? It is our obligation as legislators to hold the—