Mr. Speaker, it is such an honour to stand in the House to speak to this pressing and vital issue and to share time with my hon. colleague the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, who cares as much about this issue as I and our colleagues from coast to coast to coast do.
In Canada, in 2018 energy, the environment, and the economy are all essential tools for the success of Canadians. As such, tonight's debate touches on an issue that affects every Canadian in every part of the country.
At its heart lies two very clear facts. First, the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline is a crucial project in the national interest and will create thousands of good paying jobs for Canadians. Second, if we want to sell our resources to the world and get better prices for our products, we have to provide access to those markets.
Our government has never wavered in standing behind its decision to approve this project. We tell the same story in Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, and St. John's.
The Prime Minister has made the case for the TMX in every part of the country on many occasions, and he made it again on Sunday. The Minister of Natural Resources has taken that same message across Canada and around the world. There is simply no doubt that this pipeline is a priority for our government. Our position is clear. The TMX pipeline has been important to Canada since it was originally constructed in 1953 and it will be important to our future. It will be built.
This government has now announced that we will be entering into discussions and exploring legislative options to provide certainty for Trans Mountain. In short, the Canadian people are calling for action to get this essential project built and our government is delivering. The TMX pipeline is a priority for this government and it will be built.
This pipeline expansion will help diversify our markets and create thousands of good middle-class jobs, including jobs in indigenous communities. The project also includes improved environmental safety standards.
As the Minister of Natural Resources pointed out, using this transition period to our advantage, Canada will build the infrastructure needed to get our resources to global markets and use the revenues they generate to invest in clean energy.
As the Minister of Natural Resources has said, we must leverage the fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean energy solutions for tomorrow.
That is why my colleagues, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Natural Resources and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, and I created the energy and environment caucus early in 2016 to explore these critical issues and to call for an end to the $40 million a day that our economy was losing and $13 billion a year because we only had one customer. We need to diversify markets and we need to put Canadians back to work.
That is the same message we heard from Canadians through Generation Energy, an historic national discussion to imagine Canada's energy future for our children's children and their children. I was honoured to represent Edmonton and the citizens of Edmonton Centre at that very conference held in Winnipeg.
Canadians by the hundreds of thousands told us that they wanted a thriving economy. They wanted us to be a leader in clean technology. They wanted an energy system that would provide equal opportunities to Canadians. They also understand that we are in a transition, which means continuing to support our oil and gas industry even as we develop alternative sources of energy.
This is the same approach we are taking as we work with the provinces and territories to develop a Canadian energy strategy, one that seeks common ground and shared purpose, leveraging our traditional resources while promoting renewable new sources of energy, enhancing energy efficiency, and investing in clean technology.
We were under no illusions that everyone would agree with our approval of this project. I have said this before in the House. If a 1,500 square foot apartment complex in my downtown riding cannot get complete agreement, why would we expect that for a 1,500 kilometre pipeline?
While we are determined to get this pipeline built, we are also determined to answer reasonable questions about safety.
Our government understands and shares British Columbian's sense of responsibility for Canada's spectacular west coast, which is why we took the time to get this decision right, based on the best science and the widest possible consultation.
The Government of British Columbia speaks about wanting to consult. I would point out the broad consultation that has already taken place. The review of the Trans Mountain expansion project was the most exhaustive in the history of energy projects in Canada.
The National Energy Board carefully reviewed the Trans Mountain project and recommended that we approve it on the condition that 157 tough restrictions be met. Moreover, in order to hear from as many voices as possible, the Minister of Natural Resources set up a ministerial panel tasked with organizing additional consultation sessions. The panel held 44 public meetings, heard 600 presentations, and received about 20,000 submissions by email.
At the same time, we made the single largest investment ever to protect Canada's oceans and coastlines: a $1.5 billion oceans protection plan that was needed whether the TMX was expanded or not. It is an oceans protection plan that will improve regional plans with key partners, particularly coastal and indigenous communities that have irreplaceable on-the-ground traditional knowledge.
This generational investment in ocean safety addresses concerns about spill prevention and response and provides significant additional protections for Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea.
In approving TMX, we have also done something unprecedented in Canada: we have co-developed a historic indigenous advisory monitoring committee to help oversee the safety of a major energy project through its entire life cycle.
It is worth making the point that Canada will continue to produce oil and ship it across the country whether new pipelines are built or not; what is indisputable is that pipelines are by far the safest means.
This matters to me. I have rail that runs just to the north of my riding, and one million barrels are shipped a day on that rail. I would prefer to see that in a safe pipe. The Pipeline Safety Act strengthens this by enshrining the principle of polluter pays. It makes companies liable regardless of fault—one billion dollars in the case of major pipelines—and requires them to have the financial resources to respond to potential incidents.
Once the TMX expansion is up and running, it will give our energy a route to world markets. As the Minister of Natural Resources has said, “...when 99% of your oil goes to one customer, you don't effectively set the price. They do. You're completely reliant on them continuing to buy your product.”
However, there is another element at play here—the shale revolution in the U.S. It has fundamentally changed the North American supply-demand equation. The result is that new markets are not just important; they are imperative. Muddling along and hoping the Americans will keep buying our oil is not a strategy but a failure of leadership and a willful blindness to market realities.
Those who believe that stopping TMX is a win overlook what would be lost: jobs, income, investment in renewable energy, and opportunity. It would mean $40 million a day and $13 billion a year lost to the Canadian economy.
As the world continues to make the transition to a lower carbon future, we need a sensible, sustainable approach, one that understands that while the path to that future may be long, its trajectory is clear.
Our responsibility is to use this time wisely by improving the environmental performance of traditional energy sources while developing new ones, by investing in both pipelines and clean technologies and by engaging indigenous peoples as never before. That is exactly what we have been doing, and it is exactly what we will continue to do.
Let me share a personal note that my family works in the oil patch. My family is relying on our government, this Parliament, to make sure that the conditions exist not just for TMX but also for other projects. They also would like to know that we send a clear signal to international markets that when the Government of Canada commits to building an interprovincial project of this significance to energy infrastructure, we have the wherewithal and the gumption to get it done.
We are demonstrating that we can grow the economy while protecting the environment. We know how to do things together. I invite all members to get behind the TMX expansion, to work with us and build a brighter future for Albertans, British Columbians, and all Canadians.
This is the right thing to do. We will build this pipeline.
This pipeline will get built.