Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the charming member for Repentigny.
I will try to keep a cordial tone, as I have noticed in the last few minutes that there is enormous tension in the House. I hope my Conservative friends will keep the same cordial tone that I will use during this short speech.
On the way here, I thought about what we would be doing tonight. To be frank, I am wondering why we are having an emergency debate tonight. The reality is that the cancellation of the Teck Frontier mine project is the result of a private company’s decision to abandon its project because it sees that it is not economically viable in the current context. It has made a decision to stop investments, which I agree are huge enough, so as not to fall into a money pit.
I think the Conservative Party has always been the party of some form of capitalism. It is a party that clearly understands the implications of the free market system. I do not understand why the party that constantly invokes market forces, the free market and small government is asking today that the House intervene when a private company makes a decision. I find that rather curious.
In 2011, this private company based its analyses on the price of a barrel of oil, which was around $100. For the project to be viable, the price of a barrel of oil would have to currently be between $80 and $90. As we know, the price of oil is around $50 to $55. Therefore, I am wondering if my friends in the Conservative Party would like the Canadian government to end up supporting the Teck Frontier mine project, given that the market is unable to currently support this type of fossil fuel project. There is a really big question mark in my mind. I am certain that my friends in the Conservative Party would be happy to respond.
There is another rather crucial element. I do not know if members are aware of this, but the majority of large investment funds are taking their money out of fossil fuels. They realize that the climate crisis is real and that, in the next few years, fossil fuels will no longer be driving economic development. They are investing in the energy transition instead. It seems to me that people should be aware of this.
Perhaps the economy of the future lies not in petroleum resources, but in cleaner energy and the energy transition. That is something that is important to be aware of, and I think the financial community has come to that realization. In my opinion, if the main oil-producing provinces do not wake up to that reality, then they will be doomed to relive the same type of crisis as they are experiencing now.
The climate crisis is not a myth. Some people are even talking about this being the anthropocene era. Humans are having such a devastating effect on the planet that they may eventually render it uninhabitable. Personally, I do not want to live with such a liability. I am thinking about the planet that I want to leave to my son. The Conservatives often calculate the public debt and say that we are going to leave a public debt to our children. In my opinion, there is a much bigger debt that we may be leaving to our children, and that is the environmental debt. If we are living in an environment where the climate is constantly changing and the air around us is unbreathable, we are not leaving our children much of a legacy. I think our Conservative friends should think about that.
I think I know what this evening's debate is about. Perhaps my Conservative friends and I will say the same thing. I get the impression that the western provinces feel alienated from the rest of the country. I get the impression that they feel like the federal government has let them down. We can agree on that, because Quebec has been through it before. To come back to the western provinces' feeling of alienation, I could tell them about Quebec's special circumstances and especially about the impact that fossil fuels have had on our economy.
It should be noted, and this is quite important, that from the early 1970s until 2015, the Canadian government apparently invested $70 billion — that is the figure we have, but we will never know the real amount — in the technology needed to develop the oil sands. Of that $70 billion, $14 billion came from Quebec, but that investment did absolutely nothing for us and contributed nothing to our economy.
Another NDP politician I quite like is Thomas Mulcair. Before the 2015 election campaign and before he was flirting with the idea of becoming prime minister when he saw some rising support in the polls, Mr. Mulcair talked about Dutch disease. What is that? Dutch disease is the phenomenon whereby the value of our dollar increases to the point where it puts pressure on our exports, thereby leading to a downturn in manufacturing, which is based primarily in Quebec. Therefore, any time natural resources, such are oil, are heavily developed, the Quebec economy suffers. That is what happens.
This means we spent $14 billion to undermine Quebec's manufacturing sector. That is a fact. I could mention Dutch disease to any number of people, and they will be aware of that logic.
Briefly, it seems to me that if the problem we are having today has to do with a feeling of alienation among people in western Canada and the impression of being mistreated by the Canadian federation, I could tell them all about Quebec's specific case.
First, I should mention that twice during constitutional talks, when the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords were signed, we sought but never received recognition. Not only did Quebec not receive the recognition it was seeking on those two occasions, but it also hit a wall.
Second, I would point out to my western colleagues that, in 1982, the Constitution was repatriated without our consent. Quebec never signed the Canadian Constitution.
Third, I would remind my colleagues that, in 1969, the Government of Canada launched broad consultations on bilingualism and biculturalism. In the end, the government realized that making Canada a bicultural country would result in recognizing Quebec's special status. The government therefore decided to scrap the idea and make Canada a multicultural country so as to avoid giving Quebec the recognition it wanted.
As members can see, on four or five occasions, the Canadian federation clearly said no to Quebec. If my Conservative Party friends want to talk about feeling alienated this evening, I get it because it has happened to us repeatedly.
In this case, this sense of alienation is fuelled by economic interests. Every day in the House I keep hearing that Canada is not doing enough to support the oil sands sector. My friends from the Conservative Party keep coming back to that and are constantly asking that we build a pipeline.
I find it funny we are never in a position where we have to ask for hydro towers to be built. Hydro-Québec has never received a penny from the federal government to help install its infrastructure, which contributes to delivering green energy throughout Quebec, energy that could also be used for the other provinces and even exported to the United States. Surprisingly, we are not hearing those speeches here.
When I look at everything that has been done by the Canadian government, I have one question. Think about the Trans Mountain pipeline that was purchased for $4.7 billion. Initially we were told it would take another $7 billion to get the pipeline up and running, but that amount is now $12 billion. That pipeline is going to end up costing at least $16 billion. Personally, I think it is ironic to hear the west complaining today about alienation and saying that the federal government is not doing enough.