Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to participate in this important debate about pipelines. I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Calgary Midnapore, who I know will have a lot to say with respect to her riding as well.
This is a subject on which Conservatives have been relentless in this Parliament. I want to salute the work of my colleague and neighbour from Lakeland, our shadow minister for natural resources, who is leading the charge tonight and always, as well as the members for Chilliwack—Hope and for Portage—Lisgar who served in the role of shadow minister for natural resources earlier in this Parliament.
In addition to this emergency debate, we have moved and forced votes on two opposition motions which specifically dealt with the subject of pipelines. The first one dealt with energy east and said the following:
That, given this time of economic uncertainty, the House: (a) recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy and support its development in an environmentally sustainable way; (b) agree that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil; (c) acknowledge the desire for the Energy East pipeline expressed by the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick; and (d) express its support for the Energy East pipeline currently under consideration.
That was an opposition motion put forward by the Conservatives, and I was pleased to join every single one of my Conservative colleagues in supporting that motion. However, 100% of members of other parties, including every single member of the government, opposed that motion, including Liberal members from Alberta who had just claimed that they would fight for pipelines, but when it counted, they stood up and voted against energy east.
More recently, we put forward another motion. We thought we would give them another chance. Here is what we said:
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.
What a statement of confidence in the pipeline process that would have been from this House of Commons. Again, every single Conservative voted in favour of this motion, but every Liberal and every New Democrat opposed that proposal. They had a chance to vote for action on Trans Mountain. Every single one of them voted against.
We have not only had pro-pipeline proposals debated in this House, but Bill C-48 was the government bill to make the export of our energy resources from northern B.C. impossible. That is further blocking the northern gateway pipeline. Every single Conservative voted against Bill C-48, but every single Liberal and New Democrat voted in favour. As much as a few members tonight want to wrap themselves in bitumen, something as simple and fundamental as their voting record paints a different picture.
All of the Liberals voted against energy east, in favour of blocking the northern gateway, and against a motion to force action on Trans Mountain. All the MPs across the way should not tell us what they believe. They should cast their votes and then we will know what they believe.
The member for Edmonton Centre recently said in this place, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Clearly, he never does.
If the government is sincere about pipelines, then it should start voting for them. Our commitment to pipelines did not just start in this Parliament. The Stephen Harper government oversaw the building of Trans Mountain's Keystone pipeline, of Enbridge's Alberta Clipper, of Kinder Morgan's Anchor Loop pipeline, and of Enbridge's Line 9 reversal. We also approved the construction of the northern gateway pipeline.
Now let us be clear. Up until now at least, it has not been the government building pipelines. It has been up to the government, partially through the NEB, to review applications approving or rejecting them, and to establish the conditions that allow them and other commercial activity to succeed. When they were in government, the Conservatives approved every single pipeline that came forward. We established the conditions in which the private sector put forward proposals and we approved those proposals after appropriate review, but we also made sure that that review was appropriate and it was not just a review process that simply bogged these things down in sort of eternal consultations.
Some critics wish that more pipelines had been built, but they have a hard time demonstrating how we could have built pipelines that were never proposed. If the infrastructure minister and others who are making this point are available to pose the question, I ask them to say how they propose we would build pipelines that had not been proposed.
Again, Conservatives approved every single pipeline proposal that came forward. We built four. We approved a fifth. We ensured that every project that was proposed succeeded. I am very proud of that record.
Conservatives have voted for pipelines. We have approved pipelines. We established the conditions under which pipelines were built. We got it done.
What about the Liberal government? It killed one pipeline, the northern gateway pipeline, directly. It killed the energy east pipeline indirectly by piling conditions on it that were designed to make it fail. Let us be very clear. These were conditions that were built to fail. They were put in place and left in place and were clearly designed to make future pipeline construction impossible.
At the same time, for political reasons, the government wants to try to have its cake and eat it, too. It wants to oppose pipelines but to be seen as supporting them at the same time, at least in some political markets.
The government approved the expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline on the basis of interim principles. However, it is clear that the government has a dangerous agenda when it comes to pipelines, and that is to stop as many as possible. If this pipeline is built, it wants to make sure that it is the last one. If the government refuses to take the steps necessary to allow the pipeline to proceed on its own and resorts to either letting it die or nationalizing it, the government will have created conditions in which it will be very hard to imagine this type of critical, nation-building infrastructure being built in the future. That is the Liberal government policy.
Whoever would invest in an industry where projects were blocked by lawless protestors, in some cases lawless protestors who are members of Parliament, and some national governments block them outside of their jurisdiction and then projects are ultimately nationalized? Do these sound like the kinds of conditions that you, Madam Speaker, as a private sector investor, would find attractive?
We need to establish attractive conditions for those investments, which the government is not doing. The government must establish conditions in which vital projects, and not just this one, can be built with private dollars. It should defend all pipelines. It should vote for them. It should make the clear and obvious case for them, which is that pipelines transport vital energy resources efficiently and with a lower energy impact than the alternatives.
The government should stop talking out of both sides of its mouth. It should stop voting against pipelines, and it should start proceeding.
I would like to make a separate point, as well, about energy policy. That is that the crisis we face at this point is the result of a failed strategy by the government and by some other governments. Again, perhaps it is a strategy that is failing by design. The strategy invites us to look at energy policy as if it were some sort of hostage situation. If energy-producing jurisdictions make concessions, the argument goes, they will be able to move forward with energy development. Just pay the carbon tax, and that will buy the necessary goodwill to get progress on pipelines. Just a little more carbon tax, a little more sacrifice, and then John Horgan and Denis Coderre will release the hostages and support pipeline construction.
One does not need a Nobel Prize, even a fake one, to know that this strategy has failed. We do not want to negotiate with hostage takers anymore. The carbon tax is unaffordable to many Albertans and to people across this country. The federal government is trying to impose it even beyond its jurisdiction. Subnational governments are showing a lack of respect for the constitutional division of powers by trying to stop pipelines, and our national government is showing a lack of respect for the constitutional division of powers by trying to impose the carbon tax.
Objectively, it has not worked. It has not delivered social licence, that nebulous and immeasurable thing. The carbon tax has delivered poverty and misery. It has not delivered social licence, and it has not delivered a pipeline.
The bizarre thing about the government is that its rhetoric actually plays the hostage scenario both ways. It tells those on the right and in the centre that they have to accept the carbon tax to get a pipeline, then it tells those on the left that they have to accept the pipeline to get a carbon tax. If it is going to play this out, then it at least has to decide which is the hostage and which is the ransom.
This is all obviously ridiculous. We should build pipelines because they are in the national interest. We should oppose the carbon tax because it is not. The two are not linked in anyone's mind but the government's, as the current crisis demonstrates.
Our history shows us, right back to John A. Macdonald, that nation-building infrastructure is vital for our success, that every country needs the ability to access and engage in commerce with others. The government does not understand the importance of vital nation-building infrastructure. It is building walls instead of pipelines between provinces. That has to stop.
Under Sir John A. Macdonald, it took a Conservative to build nation-building infrastructure. It may well take a Conservative government again before we can finally build the nation-building infrastructure that will allow our energy sector to succeed.