Tom Kmiec is a Conservative Member of Parliament representing the Alberta riding of Calgary Shepard.
Back in 2013, I co-wrote an article for the IRPP, citing the growing domestic reference to Canada as an energy superpower.
In fact, we had been at risk of becoming a second rate supplier and missing an incredible opportunity for the export of our energy to the world if we couldn’t achieve a Canadian consensus.
Well, we missed it, big time.
There is no national consensus among Canadians on the rightful place of our energy development and its transportation.
Business leaders, energy workers, and a majority of Canadians agree, but an active and committed minority continues to call for a near complete blocking of energy infrastructure projects.
We have reached an impasse on what our political system can reasonably achieve without national leadership deciding in
That’s not what we’re getting with the Trudeau government in Ottawa.
What we have sen instead is a Canadian government rich in rhetoric and thin in deed.
When Prime Minister Trudeau rode to victory in 2015, he did so explicitly with the support of a left-wing base that is adamantly opposed to any industrial development.
Their grandiose statements of righting the regulatory ship to balance the economy and environment, along with intangible goals of reconciliation with ambiguous rhetoric, have created the perfect storm now taking place with LNG Canada in Kitimat.
By all accounts, the consortium of Shell, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Korea Gas have done their homework and obtained support from all the elected First Nations community leaders impacted by the project.
Approved by the NEB in 2012 and green-lighted in 2018 by the business consortium, this project will bring much-needed work to Western Canada.
In my own riding of Calgary Shepard, I have walked through a steel fabrication shop buzzing with activity because of this project and have heard from many more getting busy hiring back some of the over 100,000 energy workers laid off over the past few years.
There is cautious optimism returning at last – no thanks to the present federal Liberal government.
If projects like Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada cannot avoid blockades and protests then what hope is there for others?
The federal government has created this problem by encouraging the most radical parts of its left-wing base to actively oppose energy development while playing for time with Canadians who depend on these energy jobs.
The heightened rhetoric from Liberal cabinet ministers about the stakes in saving the environment contrasts poorly with the fact that Canada’s energy sector accounted for 7% of our GDP, and crashing the sector will cause a recession.
The case for pipelines is clear both on their environmental footprint and the opportunity in displacing energy production in international jurisdictions with worse human rights records and worse environmental production standards than ours.
The past decade of debate over
It was never about getting to a yes and obtaining that local permission; for the ardent environmental activists who supported Trudeau in
The Liberal government has encouraged these protestors to defy the law and blockade lawfully approved projects.
Its own rhetoric is now being used against them to harass the construction workers on-site and continue this anti-pipeline and anti-energy agenda.
Northern Gateway was cancelled by the Liberal Cabinet and Energy East was strangled by regulatory red tape.
Keystone XL remains embroiled in American lawsuits and much political haggling without support from Ottawa to obtain a resolution.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was so badly treated by the federal government that the latter expropriated it eventually to the tune of $4.5 billion to ensure it got built.
This regulatory and business uncertainty was caused by the Liberals and their own mixed messaging.
For years, they raised expectations to dizzying heights by promising to stop energy projects and “right” the balance between the environment and economy.
In the name of saving the planet and by way of messianic rhetoric, the federal Liberal government introduced the anti-pipeline law C-69 and a West Coast tanker ban, ignoring the science or the wishes of First Nations.
Now that the rhetoric has led to civil disorder and protestor blockades, there are accusations that Prime Minister Trudeau misled Indigenous communities and environmental activists – well he did, and here in Alberta as the saying goes, he’s all hat and no cattle.
In retrospect, a national consensus on energy development was a lofty goal that was easy to imagine from the corporate towers of Calgary.
The hard-nosed reality on the ground is that Canada has missed the opportunities to gain international markets and our own federal government has tarnished our energy superpower
We need a federal government in Ottawa that isn’t afraid to make hard choices instead of giving contradictory messages to different supporter groups and then dithering until events force its hand.
Only a federal election can fix this now.