On Saturday in Calgary, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer laid out his party’s vision for Canada’s future resource development.
There were short-term fixes, but also a long-term pitch for a national energy corridor that Scheer said he believes Canadian premiers will embrace.
“I want to talk about a national corridor that would move Canadian oil, gas, electricity, telecommunications and potentially anything else that runs along the ground,” he said.
Scheer compared his big idea to another big one from another century.
“I believe a national energy corridor can do for Canada what the railway did in the early days of Confederation,” he said.
Without specifying geography, cost, or timeline, Scheer said he believes there’s a will among different provinces to find a way to agree to create a route that will move Canada’s natural resources across the country through an area where there will be a kind of pre-approved status that would provide the kind certainty that the private sector craves.
Obviously it’s going to take a lot of work to find the right balance between Indigenous concerns and environmental concerns and any provincial issues– Andrew Scheer, Conservative Leader
That included increasing refining capacity in New Brunswick, exporting hydroelectricity in Quebec and Manitoba, and shipping oil and gas to tidewater and to eastern Canada from Alberta.
“I’m optimistic. I believe there’s a recognition of the need for it,” Scheer said.
“Obviously it’s going to take a lot of work to find the right balance between Indigenous concerns and environmental concerns and any provincial issues. There may be a lot of private property concerns for any individuals who may be living along the proposed route.
“But if we don’t start now, then it’ll never happen,” he added. “And what we’ve seen in the country in the last four years under this Liberal government is that our resources are becoming landlocked.They’re not being able to be developed.
“Big projects aren’t able to get done.”
“I believe in the benefits of our natural resources — not just in their ability to create wealth, prosperity and opportunity, but their power to bring Canadians together from right across the country,” he said.
In the short term, that vision was articulated as a six-point plan that would see a Conservative federal government, if elected:
- Scrap the carbon tax.
- Repeal Bill C-69, a bill to revamp environmental assessment of energy projects that Scheer calls the ‘no more pipelines’ bill.
- End a ban on tanker traffic in northern B.C.
- Ban foreign-funded advocacy groups from participating in the regulatory process.
- Assert federal jurisdiction where necessary.
He also called for the continued development of renewable resources and spoke about the need to create opportunities for innovators to develop new clean energy technologies, but said that Canada has lost its energy sovereignty under the federal Liberals, and needs to reclaim it.
“Now we can pretend — as some do — that the world doesn’t need oil and gas anymore,” Scheer said. “But that’s simply not true, and it sells Canada short.”
“Let’s not forget before Justin Trudeau became prime minister, we had three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building projects that would have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated billions in economic activity,” he said.
“Those companies — Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and TransCanada — continue to invest in pipelines,” he added. “Just not in Canada.”
Clean energy part of plan
When asked by CBC’s Helen Pike where clean energy fit into his vision, Scheer said Canada can be a world leader in creating clean technology.
“Obviously clean energy will be a big part of our environmental plan which we will be announcing in a few weeks. Around the world, Canada needs to lead the way and develop those world-class leading technologies — and use them to ensure that other countries can benefit from that to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as well.
“What we do know is the advancements made in Canada’s energy sector — especially here in Alberta — we’ve come so far, we’ve developed so many new technologies right here at home reducing the environmental impact of energy extraction here in Canada.
“We’re going to continue to do that and continue to make investments and incentives for further development in investment and research and development in clean energy and in renewable energy.”
In an emailed response, Vanessa Adams, the press secretary for Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi, pointed out former prime minister Stephen Harper’s failure at getting pipelines built.
“The Conservatives spent a decade failing our energy sector and failing Canadians,” she wrote. “For 10 years they ignored Indigenous communities, environmental and local concerns. And for 10 years, they got nothing built to new markets.
“Andrew Scheer’s plan is no better,” she added. “He’s making it up on the fly. And he will use the same outdated approach.
“Canadians won’t be fooled. The result will be the same.”