Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, presented on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, be concurred in.
I look forward to splitting my time with the hon. member for Carleton.
It is timely today that we talk about the study submitted by the natural resources committee entitled “The Future of Canada's Oil and Gas Sector: Innovation, Sustainable Solutions and Economic Opportunities”.
Before we talk about the future, we need to discuss the importance of responsible resource development to Canada with respect to its impact on the standard of living of Canadians and on our country's ability to provide jobs and funding for social services and social programs that are valued across the country, but also in terms of Canada's position in the world as a global leader. There is no doubt about the importance of responsible resource development, and energy development in particular, to all of Canada.
A professor of economics from the UBC Vancouver School of Economics recently submitted an editorial to The Globe and Mail and eloquently outlined the importance of responsible resource jobs for sustaining Canada's middle class. He said:
Opinions on pipelines [and there sure are more today than ever before] are flowing around Canada more quickly than the oil. The ultimate decisions on natural resource projects, however, ought to derive from facts. As an economist studying income inequality over the last 15 years, I can offer a key fact to the debate. In my view, nothing has contributed more than natural resources to buttressing the Canadian middle class against the rapidly changing global economy of the 21st century.
The importance of resources to middle-class incomes is most clearly seen by looking at a simple measure: the earnings of the middle worker in the economy (the median). Between 2000 and 2015, Canadian median earnings rose by just 6 per cent after inflation.... However, underneath this national number lie vast differences across provinces. While Alberta saw earnings growth of 27 per cent and Saskatchewan topped 44 per cent, Quebec only saw growth of 6 per cent and Ontario suffered a loss of 4 per cent. When researchers have pushed beyond these basic comparisons, the same essential fact holds up: Without income derived from the resource boom, Canadian inequality and the well-being of the Canadian middle class would be much worse than we’ve experienced.
He points out that it is important for social services, nursing, education, and transit. Those benefits help the provinces by providing plentiful resources, but importantly, he notes that, “since our equalization formula uses the federal purse to top up provinces without comparable resource-revenue streams”, even when that revenue is derived in certain provinces in the energy sector, it is shared across the country and benefits all Canadians.
He notes the benefits of resource development to indigenous communities living near natural resources. He also talks about the sharing of economic benefits that indigenous communities deserve for their future, and about the opportunities for them to be partners and beneficiaries of responsible resource development.
As an Albertan, that is something I have seen in my backyard and in northern Alberta for a long time. I often find myself questioning whether I am in a twilight zone when I hear members from other parties spinning the myth and narrative that indigenous people and indigenous communities are of one mind and are opposed to oil and gas and pipelines. It is not at all the truth. In fact, holding back Canadian oil and gas development disproportionately harms people in rural communities and remote areas, and in particular indigenous communities, which deserve to pursue prosperity, a legacy, and opportunities for future generations and for all their young people, just as all other communities deserve to do that through responsible resource development in Canada.
The professor says:
The stakes we face are high. To maintain public support for pro-growth initiatives such as trade agreements and for doing Canada’s part in limiting climate change, we need to ensure that economic growth is felt by everybody in society. Economic growth that brings everyone along gives all families a stake in Canadian economic success. This increased economic security energizes social forces that pull us together.
He also points out:
Around the world, the relentless pressures of technology are hollowing out middle-class employment, leading to stagnating middle-class incomes and exacerbating social tensions. These same pressures appear in Canada too, but resource development has allowed the Canadian middle class to push back on these pressures better than almost any other advanced economy on earth.
It is a reality today that more energy investment has left Canada under the current Prime Minister and the Liberals than in any other multiple-year period in seventy years, over half a century. The Liberals have suggested at times that this is a function of prices. Of course, there are many more factors impacting oil and gas and resource development in Canada other than prices. It has to do with certainty, predictability, stability, and clear, concrete measures, outcomes, roles and responsibilities. Oil and gas proponents talk about the devastating impacts of the cumulative costs of layers of regulations, additional red tape, duplication with other jurisdictions, and tax increases. Therefore, we have to review what has caused investment to leave Canada at historic rates and hundreds of thousands of Canadians to lose their jobs in the energy sector under the Liberals.
Last year, the Prime Minister told the world that he wanted to phase out the oil sands. In case Canadians thought that this was a slip of the tongue, unfortunately he reinforced it again just a couple of weeks ago in Paris, when he said he regretted that Canada cannot get off oil tomorrow. Therefore, at the outset, is it any wonder that oil and gas proponents and investors around the world might be wondering whether or not the Prime Minister and the Liberals actually welcome oil and gas development in Canada? The Liberals campaigned in co-operation with anti-energy activists, denigrating Canada's world-leading track record as the most responsible oil producer in the world, and denigrating our track record for the highest standards, second to none, for science-, evidence-, and expert-based decision-making, and for consultation with impacted communities and first nations, including the incorporation of traditional knowledge.
The Liberals froze the regulatory system in February 2016, causing massive uncertainty for energy development in Canada. They announced interim measures, most of which had been hallmarks of the Canadian regulatory system for decades. However, one was not, and that was the consideration of upstream emissions for pipeline approvals. Not only was that an overreach into provincial jurisdiction, because that is where upstream emissions are regulated, but it was later magnified by the Liberals instructing that downstream emissions coming from tailpipes should also be attached to a pipeline for consideration of its approval. Ultimately, that is what caused the abandonment of the potential nation-building opportunity in energy east. However, before that, the Liberals had vetoed the northern gateway pipeline, previously approved by the Conservatives, which was the only new stand-alone opportunity to reach tidewater to get Canada's energy into the Asia-Pacific, which will continue to demand oil and gas for years to come. Then, the regulatory delays caused the abandonment of two LNG projects, holding Canada back by missing Asian contracts.
On top of all that, the Liberals decided, at the very worst time for energy workers, to remove the tax credit for new oil and gas drilling and exploration wells, and then imposed a carbon tax on all provinces, increasing costs right across the board. They imposed an offshore drilling ban, which the Premier of the Northwest Territories said destroyed hope for the future of people in his communities. The ban was imposed without adequate consultation, and it does not apply to any other Canadian coast. It stops exports, and it clearly targets the oil sands and the pipelines, because it does not address foreign tankers or American tankers in the region.
Here is the reality. The world is going to continue to demand oil and gas. Developing countries need oil and gas. Canada should be the choice as a world-leading, responsible provider of oil to the world. The Liberals need to stop implementing policies, legislation, and costs that shut down Canadian energy.