Madam Speaker, today I will be speaking to Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
The natural resource sector has brought tremendous wealth to my riding, all of Alberta, and Canada. The oil sands alone have brought $7.4 billion to the Canadian economy outside of Alberta: $3.9 billion to Ontario, $1.3 billion to British Columbia, $1.2 billion to Quebec, $330 million to Newfoundland, $143 million to Manitoba, $142 million to Saskatchewan, $96.7 million to Nova Scotia, $50.8 million to New Brunswick, $11.4 million to the Northwest Territories, $6.3 million to Prince Edward Island, and $1.6 million to Yukon. These figures include everything from specially made work gloves to satellites monitoring emissions. What the figures do not include are the equalization payments, which have long relied on collecting billions from Albertans working in the energy sector to be divided among have-not provinces.
When I was first elected, anyone across the country that was willing to work could find a job in Alberta. For those willing to work hard, often more than 40 hours a week, they could support a family, send their kids to post-secondary education, and still have money to save for the future. Small businesses across Alberta were also booming from the economic activities that the industry brought into almost every town and county in the province. That is not the case today. An oil crash later, a provincial government change, and a federal government change have all Alberta reeling.
The global price of oil is out of control, but what many Canadians do not know is we do not receive market rates for our oil. What is often reported is the North American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate. Our oil is traded as Alberta's Western Canada Select. As of yesterday, the difference between the two prices was $34.74 per barrel. Pipelines can help close those gaps in prices. The more access we have to markets other than the United States, the better the deal we can strike. Instead of supporting the building of these pipelines, the Liberal government has introduced regulation after regulation, which is crippling the industry and deterring investment.
Today, we are talking about the newest blow the Liberal government has struck against the west and our oil industry. It would rob the National Energy Board of most of its power and create the Canadian energy regulator.
The National Energy Board has served as a world-class regulator for the natural resource sector since its creation in 1959. Since then, it has reviewed and approved many major energy projects in Canada. Over the last decade, the NEB has approved pipelines that Alberta desperately needs, which has made it a target for political interference.
When the Liberals took power, the natural resources minister's mandate letter called on him to modernize the National Energy Board to ensure that its composition reflected regional views and had sufficient expertise in the field, such as environmental science, community development, and indigenous traditional knowledge.
While the government believes Bill C-69 will complete his mandate, I would like to cover how the bill will drive investment out of Canada.
One of the changes the bill would bring is the establishment of timelines. The government claims there would be timelines of 450 days for major projects and 300 days for minor projects, respectively, pursuant to proposed subsections 183(4) and 214(4). While many Conservatives are in favour of timelines for projects, the devil is in the details. The application process can be dragged out and will not be considered in the timelines. The lead commissioner will be given the ability to exclude time in the process. Last, and most important, the minister can approve or deny an application before it even gets to the assessment phase. We only have to look at the cancelled northern gateway pipeline to see that the government has no problem putting national interests on hold and dismissing a pipeline for political reasons.
I am also concerned about the changes to the NEB standing text. Currently, individuals and organizations directly affected by the projects or capable of providing valuable knowledge are heard by the National Energy Board. The new rules will allow anyone to participate and be heard. This will ensure that groups who oppose all energy projects across Canada will be given a bigger voice. Groups outside of Canada will be given a voice as well, and they do not have our best interests at heart.
I can only imagine what our global competitors think of our legislation. It gives them an opportunity to fund groups that will oppose every project that has the ability to threaten their market share. To think that this will not occur in the future is foolish and shortsighted.
This is an attempt to fix a problem that did not exist. During the review of the Enbridge line 9B reversal and line 9 capacity expansion project, only eight of the 177 applications to participate were denied. I encourage Canadians to take a look at some of the denied submissions. One individual said that a spill from a pipeline, even far away from her home, is an insult to her sense of the holy.
While this example may come up a couple of times today, I think it is important to show that our National Energy Board is not trying to silence individuals and organizations, but is just applying common sense to the process. We need more common sense in government, not less.
Over the last three years, we have seen less and less investment in our natural resources because of the Liberal government's policies. From the carbon tax to the inclusion of upstream emissions to the National Energy Board review, it appears that the government wants to repeal investment in the resource sector.
According to the Financial Post, in February, Suncor CEO Steve Williams told financial analysts that Suncor is actively discussing Canada’s lack of competitiveness with various levels of government here because “other jurisdictions are doing much more to attract business, so Canada needs to do much more to up its game”.
Members need to consider that if we keep our resources in the ground, like David Suzuki wants, we are not saving the environment; we are just moving the resource development to other countries around the world that have lower safety standards and lower environmental protection. I believe that if resources are needed, it is better that they come from here and not from a human rights abuser or a dictator or a country with very low environmental standards.
I know that many members of Parliament have voted for and will continue to vote for regulations of every type. What they need to consider before voting on the bill is that we are part of a global market. Right now we are competing with countries across the world to sell our goods and attract investment.
We only need to look across the border to see a government intent on bringing in billions of dollars of investment and the jobs that come with it. Since taking office, the Trump administration has given the energy industry a tremendous amount of confidence to invest by cutting regulations and taxes.
Future natural resources jobs in my riding, in Alberta, and across Canada are at stake if this bill passes. That is why my Conservative colleagues and I stand against this bill.