Is there something funny about what I am saying? I do not know why this is so funny. People in my province are desperate. They are looking for jobs and opportunities. We have so many problems right now in central Alberta as a result of the current energy policies, which I guess is a source of humour to my colleagues across the way, one of whom is from Newfoundland and ought to understand the value of the energy sector. However, I will not digress.
Fossil fuels are so ingrained in every aspect of our lives, and when we say that a carbon tax is a tax on everything, it is absolutely true. Take a look around this room. Nothing in this room could be brought to us today without the use of fossil fuels. The wood would have to be harvested by fossil-fuel-powered equipment in the forestry sector. It would be cut in a sawmill and then refined and finished in a shop that relied heavily on electricity or other fossil fuels. The stone would not be quarried by hand. This would be done by heavy equipment. The food on the table out there came from a farm or was shipped here from another country. I am pretty sure that the pineapple on the plate in the government's lobby did not come from Newfoundland and Labrador or Alberta. It likely came from Hawaii.
How did it get here? It got here on an airplane. It was not a solar-powered one. It got here on an airplane or a ship that was powered by fossil fuels. Everything we have, the medical advancements and all the technology we have, is because we have cheap, reliable, affordable fossil fuels. It is absolutely critical that we do not get disconnected from that.
Should we be as energy efficient as possible? Absolutely. If the government was proposing energy efficient ideas, I would support them on a one-off basis if they had merit and were sustainable.
I do not know why in this country we have to hate oil and gas in order to like solar power and wind power and all these other things. Energy, and the taxes and the benefits it provides to our economy, pays for schools, infrastructure, health care and medicine. If our economy was doing so well, it would not be nearly impossible to balance a budget. However, the government seems to be either ideologically opposed to, or is actually misleading Canadians about, the economic success it has. It should be very easy to balance a budget in a good economy.
Notwithstanding that, let us have a short history lesson, because the government likes to basically blame everyone before it for everything it is failing at right now.
The Prime Minister inherited a balanced budget and three tidewater applications from one mandate of a Conservative government that had a majority in this House. I chaired the subcommittee on finance for Bill C-38. The industry had asked us to streamline and harmonize all the environmental regulations, which resulted in the pipeline applications the government across the way has botched so badly. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that a balanced budget is gone until 2045, 2050, or 2055.
We had three tidewater pipeline projects in the hopper. We did not inherit any of those from a previous Liberal government. None of those were applied for during the five years we were a minority parliament, because, of course, the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois would block basically any legislative attempts we had in the House to harmonize or streamline the regulatory process and bring certainty so that the investment sector would actually want to do this. We had four and a half years. Bill C-38 was passed, and the three pipelines were applied for.
The government of the day inherited three tidewater pipeline applications. Each one of them, if we look at the total kilometres, would add up to about 7,000 kilometres of tidewater pipelines. The Prime Minister of today has presided over the demise of energy east, which was over 4,000 kilometres of pipeline to tidewater, and northern gateway, which was 1,100 kilometres of pipeline to tidewater. Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain is hanging on by a thread. It is not because Kinder Morgan wants to build it. It would like to flee this marketplace as well. Therefore, the government of the day now has to use taxpayer dollars to rescue the only project, for political reasons. It has nothing to do with science. It has nothing to do with technology or the capabilities and competencies of the energy sector. The energy sector knows how to build pipelines. It is the only one that actually does. I have a lot more faith in Kinder Morgan building the pipeline than the Government of Canada building the pipeline, because it knows how to do it. It has been doing it for 60 or 70 years through British Columbia without major incident.
Here is where we are today. We are sitting at a crossroads in this country, where we have the third-largest reserves of oil in the world and we cannot get our pipelines to tidewater. Some members over there are saying that the oil that goes through the Kinder Morgan pipeline already ends up in the United States. That is actually quite true. All the gas exported from Canada, 100%, goes to the United States. According to this report, 97% of the oil in the export market from Canada goes to the United States. That is because Vancouver is a shallow port, and large tankers will not come in to the port, which is why northern gateway was so important. It went to a deepwater port a little further north on the coast of British Columba, where a supertanker or any large vessel could actually go in and fill up the ship. That was the one that was going to diversify the market. Saudi, Nigerian and Venezuelan oil comes in by the boatload along the Atlantic coast, which I guess does not deserve the same protection with a tanker ban as the west coast.
Why? Why would our friends in Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada not want to use oil that was sourced in Canada?
I have been here for a long time. I noticed who was on the plane going back and forth to Alberta when times were good, when there was certainty in the industry. It was people from Quebec. The planes that stopped in Ottawa to pick me up and take me back to Alberta came from Halifax, came from St. John's, Newfoundland. They were full of people wearing Shell Albian jackets, Pearl oil sands project jackets, Firebag project jackets. These people were providing for their families. They could have just stayed home if they wanted to and worked at thousands of jobs that would have been created at the other end of the pipeline.
It is not just the pipeline. It is not just the jobs in the creation of the pipeline. It is jobs at each end. It is jobs in Alberta, Saskatchewan, northern B.C. It is jobs for western Canadians. It is jobs in Atlantic Canada, processing, refining, upgrading, shipping and exporting Canadian products rather than watching the ships roll in from kingdoms like Saudi Arabia. The current Liberal government does not even have a relationship with Saudi Arabia anymore, even though we are still buying its oil, as well as oil from other despots and dictators who do not have anywhere close to the same environmental and human rights standards that Canada has.
The NDP, the Bloc, the Green Party and the Liberals all want to argue about how important environmental regulations are, and I would agree. I am an outdoorsman. I want clean water. I want clean air. I want clean land. I want to fish in a clean river. I want to hunt for moose where it is nice and I can trust that there is no environmental pollution.
I live in Alberta. I am not worried about any of those things. The air that I breathe is clean. The rivers that flow through my community are clear and blue. The land and resources in Alberta are wonderful.
I do not understand. Who are we comparing ourselves to when it comes to our environmental regulations? What is the problem? Could somebody point out to me the last major oil spill that we were not able to handle or clean up? Where is the problem, or is it actually a problem?
It is all about money. It is not about the environment. The carbon tax is not about the environment either. It is just about money. It is all a wealth transfer. It is all about people who want to be part of the process because they want the money, and that is fine. Let us just call it what it is.
Here is where we are. We are at the crossroads right now. We cannot say that Canada is a laggard when it comes to environmental stewardship or human rights, because no other oil-producing and exporting country in the world is better than we are. We are probably on par with Norway and the United States. There might be a few pluses and minuses in a few categories but we are on par with those guys. We are well ahead of Saudi Arabia.
The Liberal government cannot even keep our borders secure. There is no line-up of people from Canada fleeing to Iran or Iraq, both oil-producing countries in the Middle East. Could it be because Canada actually has it right and that all of the problems that we have here are manufactured political problems?
I have been to downtown Vancouver, where I have seen people driving cars. I have been to downtown Montreal, where I have seen people driving cars. I have been to downtown Toronto, where I have seen people driving cars. Why do we want to make that more expensive? Why do we want to make the cost of shipping goods to and from these people more expensive? Why do we want to make travel for Canadians to a warm climate in the wintertime more expensive?
Energy is the lifeblood of everything that is good in this country. I will go back to that point one more time.
All of the things that we have in our life that are good right now are brought to us by the advancement of fossil fuels. Until we refined kerosene several hundred years ago, we were burning wood and coal, which was messy and dirty. We were using basically 80% to 90% of all of the crops that we grew just to feed our horses and our cows. Now 3% of the population can grow the world's food, because of fossil fuels.
Now we have opportunities to be researchers, lawyers, musicians, artists. We do not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. We do not have to worry about subsistence living here in Canada, because we have fossil fuels.
Today, the leader of my party, the Conservative Party of Canada, said that after the next election, when he became the prime minister of Canada, he would exercise the powers available to the government to do nation-building projects. That does not mean we will run roughshod over everyone. It just means we cannot have these stalemates go on for ever, because it drives investment out of our economy.
Should first nations be involved? Absolutely. Should we do everything we can to ensure, from an environmental perspective, that we can mitigate almost all the risks? Of course. No one will argue about that.
Why can the government not get this pipeline built? Let us take a look.
The Northern gateway project was approved. It had 209 conditions. Enbridge was moving ahead with it. It had spent about $1.5 billion of shareholders' money on that project to get it built. Over 30 of the 42 first nations along the route publicly supported it. Two were publicly opposed. The remaining 10 or so would not declare publicly whether they would support it or not.
Enbridge had the task then, through the National Energy Board, to go and resolve those 209 conditions set out by the board. It was on its way to do it. As a private sector company, it needed to get the buy-in from the first nations along the route. It had already been tested through our Constitution, through our courts. All of that process could be played out. The government did not need to get involved in that. That was Enbridge's job, and it was doing it.
Then the election happened and the pipeline was killed. It was a political decision, because the science and technical expertise at the National Energy Board said that pipeline was perfectly valid to go ahead. With 30 of 42 first nations publicly supporting it, or 75% of the first nations publicly supporting it along the route, I guess that was not enough. I am not sure we will ever get consensus on anything, which I think suits the Liberal Party just fine.
Anyway, the project is killed, the tanker ban is in place and there is no new investment coming for northern British Columbia at all, zero. The folks in northern British Columbia want the pipeline built. They want those jobs.
Energy east was another pipeline. One of the first things that happened after the government was elected in 2015 was it changed the regulatory review process by adding a six month and a three month process on to energy east and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipelines, kicking the can down the road. According to the government of the day, it needed to do this because it would ensure these projects would have the social license, whatever that is, to get the pipeline built.
Then when it looked like Trans Canada was actually going to proceed and get Energy east built, the mayor of Montreal at the time, Denis Coderre, who was a former Liberal cabinet minister and member of Parliament in the House, said that he did not want the pipeline there. I did not realize that mayors of towns were responsible for telling the National Energy Board what to do, but apparently the Prime Minister of Canada today listens to them, rather than the technical experts at the National Energy Board.
It does not matter that pipelines are already going all the way through the community. People who have natural gas in their houses have a pipeline right to their houses. However, I digress.
Trans Canada was trying to get that pipeline built and what happened? The government said “It looks like we're going to have a success here. Let's put some more regulatory obstacles in by putting upstream and downstream emission standards on a pipeline”. Guess what. Trans Canada shelved the project. Why would it not^ Why would it expose more of its shareholders' money to that risk? Just like Enbridge had to walk away from, I am guessing, over a billion dollars worth of investment, Trans Canada did the same thing. It shelved the project.
That was two out of three gone. Now we have one pipeline left and it stands alone. All the social justice warriors, all the environmental activists and everyone could focus on this one pipeline. Guess what. All they did was get in front of the right judge and they got the ruling. The government could not even follow its own rules to build a pipeline that it had to buy from the private sector. That money is now going to projects elsewhere to compete against us. It now wants to sell this pipeline that it cannot build to a future investor. The Liberals are in charge. There is no doubt about it.