Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, in less than seven months, soaring international oil prices-that shock wave from the Persian Gulf-has spread its tide of extreme economic disruption to all continents and the majority of nations. Even in Canada, with important oil resources of its own, these world changes have threatened our economy. They have, in fact, created a major challenge in our experience as a nation.
Today, Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to report to the House the details of a national agreement to meet this challenge. An agreement reached yesterday which underlines the good will and national feeling that exist in all provinces and regions-which stands as a tribute to the vitality of our Canadian community. As I have said, yesterday was a great day for federalism.
The House will recall that when the world changes first became evident last fall, the federal government stepped in to freeze the price of Western crude oil and to assure that sufficient amounts of it would be available in Eastern Canada in case of reductions in imports. At the same time, the government's oil export tax ensured that the international price received for export crude did not become a windfall gain to the oil companies.
It was apparent, however, that Canadian oil resources were limited. It was apparent that if we wished to assure the huge investments necessary for adequate future supplies, somewhat higher domestic prices would be essential; that the oil-producing provinces-mainly Alberta and Saskatchewan-must be assured a fair return. And notwithstanding this, that at a time of worldwide inflation, Canadian consumers in every province must be carefully protected from any unwarranted price increases.
Despite the strongly held and differing views of all concerned, despite the endless complexities on almost every aspect of the problems involved, federal-provincial consultations took place through the fall-and led to the conference on energy held in Ottawa during January. That conference reached the key agreement that no further change would take place in crude oil prices for the interim period, which as you know, will end on Monday next.
I had said in my statement of December 6 that crude oil should become available at the same basic price across
Canada, subject, of course, to the addition of transportation costs.
On that crucial principle of a "single Canadian price" we have been able to build the agreement reached yesterday.
Subtopic: STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER ON AGREEMENT WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING PRICE OF CANADIAN CRUDE OIL