Pierre Poilievre has unique perspective on the current challenges facing the Canadian Energy Industry. He was born a year before the National Energy Program came into effect in Canada and grew up watching the impact of the Federal government’s destructive economic measures on the province of Alberta and on people’s livelihood. As a six term MP in Ottawa, he has had a ringside seat for government action (and inaction) as global competition for energy markets ramped up to a rapid pace by 2020. He has perspective on Canada’s energy policies during the time that saw the USA rise to become a net exporter of crude oil in 2019, achieve record natural gas supply growth and experienced Russia’s intense drive to capture lucrative European and Asian markets.
By the end of 2019, Canada was fourth in the top five oil producing countries in the world behind the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia with China running a close fifth. The question that comes to mind is “Can Canada compete?” Canada not only lost $100 billion in Energy projects in the last two years, but one wonders how much more investment we could be at risk of losing in other sectors as well. In an interview with the BOE Report, Mr. Poilievre suggested a focus on the advantages of LNG and challenged the notion of a “One and Done” approach, saying…
“We need to make the case that export of Canadian natural gas is good for our economy and good for the global environment. We export our clean, green natural gas, we displace coal in foreign coal fired power plants and we reduce global emissions in the process. The LNG Canada project is going to reduce global GHG emissions by about 90 million tons because it will displace coal in electricity generation in Asia. So, we should do more projects on the scale of LNG Canada.”
Further, He had a prescription to stop the billions lost to investment in other countries that are more favorable tax jurisdictions and stated…
“ If the Government of Canada were really interested in reducing GHG emissions, it would create a market environment in which the export of LNG becomes more prolific. The Government needs to eliminate the Carbon tax and simplify the process for approving the construction of liquefaction facilities and pipelines to deliver gas supply and create a more competitive environment to attract the massive investment that is required to build these facilities.” .
In the case of the LNG Canada project, Canada has clear advantages over other suppliers– the ability to produce the cleanest, most environmentally responsible LNG in the world, stability and reliability of supply and with short shipping routes to Asia cutting our costs- affordability. In the face of these advantages, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson minimizes the environmental benefits of LNG displacing coal and is reluctant to allow LNG projects to claim carbon credits for displacing coal combustion in other countries. Western Canadians are experiencing mounting frustration with federal refusal to fully recognize the strengths and benefits of a Canadian industry. Poilievre addressed this disconnect in plain language.
“The current Federal government is beholden to a far-left, anti-development agenda. The only thing the government seems to want to do is raise taxes and shut down industry, and they are determined to shut down Canada’s clean industries, even when it’s bad for the environment to do so. Under section 6 of the Paris accord, Canada has the right to negotiate with foreign countries to transfer credit for emissions reductions when we help them reduce their emissions. In those cases, we would have to have an agreement with the importing country, and there is no reason why we can’t negotiate such an agreement. We can help China, India and other countries phase out dirty coal combustion and bring in clean, green natural gas instead. We should try to get some credit for the resulting reductions in greenhouse gases.”
Ironically, by agreeing to honor the Harper-era approval of the LNG Canada project, the government has acknowledged that LNG will play a role in reducing global admissions. Since currently, they don’t want to give LNG companies credit for that achievement, Mr. Poilievre advises the government to take an opposite approach to the Carbon tax which would be to incentivize Canadian entrepreneurs to reduce global emissions.
According to Poilievre…“That’s how we tackle climate change. Obviously, foreign countries would want to take some credit themselves, but if there were a way to make it more attractive to them to share that credit, then we should consider it. If the goal really is to reduce the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere, then we shouldn’t care where it happens. If we can contribute to a reduction in another part of the world, that is just as valuable to protect the planet as it would be for us to achieve that reduction here at home.”
On January 7th, when the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called for halt to major Canadian Energy projects- the BC Site C project, Trans Mountain and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline- the pipeline supplying gas to the LNG Canada site, Mr. Poilievre identified flaws the committee’s directive as follows.
“The UN doesn’t seem to want or recognize consultation with Indigenous groups unless it leads to “No”. The only answer they want to hear is “No”. This creates a result where , in the case of all the Indigenous communities who wanted Northern Gateway to go ahead – they have their rights trampled upon. Their constitutional rights to be consulted about decisions related to natural resources were thrown out the window when Justin Trudeau vetoed the project. We need to honor the duty to consult First Nations and we also need to consult them when they say “Yes” not just when they say “No”. Those communities that support projects deserve to have their voices heard. Right now, that’s not happening. Natural Resource development is an unprecedented opportunity to lift tens of thousands of First Nations people out of poverty and give them full autonomy and financial independence concerning their future.”
Pierre Poilievre had words of encouragement for the Energy industry in the new decade of the 2020s as he summarized…
“The Industry is already doing great things to protect the environment, to fight poverty, to improve the quality of life of people living in communities nearby and needs to tell those stories to the public. I encourage people who are in the Energy business to do a good job of explaining how beneficial our Energy sector has been to the country.”
It sounds like a good approach to set the stage for industry growth in the decade to come.
Maureen McCall is an energy professional currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Petroleum Joint Venture Association