Alastair William GILLESPIE

GILLESPIE, The Hon. Alastair William, P.C., O.C., B.Comm., M.A., M. Comm.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Etobicoke (Ontario)
Birth Date
May 1, 1922
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alastair_Gillespie
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=42384049-a834-4ef3-a8b5-1d7a39c20ca8&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
business executive

Parliamentary Career

June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
LIB
  Etobicoke (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board (October 1, 1970 - August 11, 1971)
  • Minister of State for Science and Technology (August 12, 1971 - November 26, 1972)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
LIB
  Etobicoke (Ontario)
  • Minister of State for Science and Technology (August 12, 1971 - November 26, 1972)
  • Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (November 27, 1972 - September 25, 1975)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
LIB
  Etobicoke (Ontario)
  • Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (November 27, 1972 - September 25, 1975)
  • Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (September 26, 1975 - June 3, 1979)
  • Minister of State for Science and Technology (November 24, 1978 - June 3, 1979)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 647)


November 15, 1982

The Hon. Alastair Gillespie moved

on to his reward as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The gurus in the Prime Minister's office and the Privy Council office, finding that this sectorial strategy would not work, decided that it must be a structural problem; it cannot be the fault of the Liberal Party. Therefore, they created the Economic Development Board and the position of Minister of State for Economic Development. The present occupant of that post is in the House today. Since the creation of that position, which was the new answer to our lack of industrial or economic strategy, absolutely nothing of value has been produced to this time.

However, over at the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Alastair Gillespie discovered the Holy Grail. He found an industrial strategy, one based on megaprojects. I recall the First Ministers' meeting of 1978 when he proudly produced that list of 40, 60 or 120 projects. It was a magnificent list. What it was, though, was a list of every project that was planned, considered or even dreamed of by every business, government, entrepreneur and wishful thinker in the country. It was mostly pure fiction. There was one part which was real. That was the megaprojects dealing with energy development, particularly oil and gas development.

With the election of a Progressive Conservative Government in 1979 these megaprojects got under way. Work had activly begun and there was even a great shortage of engineers because of the work and planning that was going into these megaprojects. Some of those projects are mentioned on page 94 of the National Energy Program. They include the Suncor expansion, the Syncrude expansion, the Cold Lake project, the Alsands project, the Canwest project, the Saskatchewan heavy oil tertiary project, the Judy Creek light oil tertiary project,

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and Hibernia. It is an impressive list. Each project was actively being pursued in 1979 and work was under way in 1980.

Before I deal with what happened to those projects I would also like to mention some gas-based projects which collectively represent megaprojects in that field. They are an ethylene plant by Alberta Gas Ethylene; an ethylene plant by Esso, Alberta Energy and Hudson's Bay Oil and Gas; a polyethylene plant by CIL and Trimac; a polyethylene plant by DuPont and Alberta Energy Company; a benzene plant by Esso and Alberta Energy; a styrene plant by Esso and Alberta Energy; an acetic acid plant by Celanese Canada; a vinyl acetate plant by Celanese Canada; an MTBE plant by Alberta Natural Gas; two Dow Chemical plants at Fort Saskatchewan; and an Alberta Gas chemicals methanol plant. They number 12 in all.

What is interesting about those oil and gas projects is that every single one has gone down the tube. The energy projects that were left from the mythical industrial strategy based on megaprojects produced by the Liberal Government were all destroyed by the National Energy Program. What is really galling is the audacity or stupidity, or perhaps both, of the content of this National Energy Program. I quote from page 94 where these oil projects were listed. It says:

The positive impact of the Program-

Referring to the National Energy Program:

-on oil sands development can be illustrated by its effect on the commercial viability of the Alsands project-

Can you believe the audacity, dishonesty or perhaps plain ignorance of someone to write such trash when, in fact, it destroyed those projects? The Alsands project was under construction in early 1980. Men and machinery were on site moving earth.

I do not want once again to go over all of the reasons the National Energy Program is wrong and discuss its disaster. There is no honest person in this country who does not recognize the disaster of the National Energy Program. Why was it such a disaster? One has to acknowledge that part of it is a result of the uncertainty. The newly elected Liberal Government argued, fought and disputed with the Provinces for two years before reaching some reasonable accord. It was an incredible display of mismanagement and stupidity. No industry, entrepreneur or investor can tolerate such a delay.

Second, the Government simply took too much money. It dipped in for a huge amount of money by way of tax increases which were justified on the basis of projections on revenue flow which were pure fiction. In that respect, Mr. Speaker, if you have not read Peter Foster's book called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", subtitled "The Super Bureaucrats of the Energy Disaster", I highly recommend it. Those geniuses-one of whom is now in Paris at our expense to the tune of $200,000 a year-projected revenues that were pure fiction. They were calculations of the kind you would learn to do when taking a Ph.D in economics at the University of Toronto. They certainly bore no relationship to reality. These bureaucrats divvied up these fictitious numbers. The share of these fictitious numbers were certainly fair but they bore no relationship to reality. The

November 15, 1982

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Government simply took too much money. There was not enough left to keep people interested and provide the economic activity from which jobs and spin-off effects come.

In addition, a terrible precedent was set. For the first time in our history, the Government retroactively changed the rules in a highly pejorative way. The world being what it is, we expect that kind of behaviour, unfortunately, from a banana republic, dictatorship or some of the less stable Third World countries. No one expected that kind of behaviour from Canada. Canada was considered to be a stable, democratic country with a long history of fair play. If we made mistakes in the past, we lived with them and changed the rules in the future. We did not change the rules retroactively until this Liberal Government and this Minister did so.

The impact of all of that has caused the demise of all the energy projects which I have outlined, including oil and gas projects. If those projects were in place today, the jobs which would have been generated would not be in the thousands or the tens of thousands, but rather in the hundreds of thousands. In Canada today there are hundreds of thousands of families whose income earners are unemployed because of the National Energy Program and the demise of the only kind of industrial strategy left, the megaproject strategy.

I would refer Your Honour and the rest of the House to the seventeenth annual review of the Economic Council of Canada. Its predictions as to what disasters would befall this country if those megaprojects did not go ahead are turning out to be exactly on target. It was all there. Those were predictions of three years ago. Probably none of the Hon. Members opposite have read it because they would not like the message. However, we do not need a Royal Commission headed by Donald Macdonald and we do not need some fresh new insight. All we need is for someone opposite to read what has been done by this permanent Royal Commission, the Economic Council of Canada, and to heed its lessons.

I want to refer to what can be done and what needs to be done now. Clearly the most terrible and crucial problem facing Canada is the question of jobs. I had the misfortune of living in a home where the father was unemployed for a number of years and I know what devastation that can cause a family. The numbers involving the unemployed are so large that we sometimes do not comprehend them. We say that 12.2 per cent, 12.7 per cent or 1.5 million people are unemployed. They are numbers, but behind every one of those numbers is a family and I know, firsthand, what that means to a family. It is not enough that we say we will have a Royal Commission to look into the matter and report back in three years. It is not enough that we put together a committee of economists and say that from now on the Minister will listen to some outside advice. It is not enough that we reward the perpetrators of this tragedy by giving them year-long vacations in Paris at our expense. We must take action.

Let me speak in terms of what can be done. It has been noted by apologists on the Liberal side that there is not much we can do about world markets, and that is iccepted. There is

not much Canada can do now about the fact that the world has an oversupply of nickel, steel, copper, lumber, things that we produce in abundance, and therefore we cannot supply the world. We are unfortunately trapped in terms of those circumstances, but that is not true of our energy. The market is here in Canada. We can displace imports.

So there is no reason for us to blame the rest of the world or wring our hands and say there is nothing we can do, because we can, and we can in the area of energy. I am not referring to jobs in Alberta, Saskatchewan or British Columbia when I am referring to energy development. A recent study by the consulting firm, Foster Consultants (Calgary), on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada illustrated that when money is spent for oil and gas in Alberta, when one dollar is spent, 40 cents ends up being spent in Ontario because that is where the pipe is produced as well as the valves, the machinery, equipment, trucks, cars and everything else used by the industry, some 16 per cent is spent in Quebec, with 28 per cent or 29 per cent actually ending up in Alberta and the remainder in the rest of the country. Therefore, we are not referring to something which benefits only one region but, rather, something which benefits the entire country.

The netbacks must be adjusted. During question period the other day, someone asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) a question about lowering taxes. He replied by asking, "How can I lower taxes when we have such a terrible deficit? One cannot do both". I will give an example of where lowering taxes would decrease the deficit because it would produce more revenue for the Government than the current tax load. I will quote from a speech by the chairman of the board of Dow Chemical (Canada) Limited. He referred to the experience with the company's ethylene plant in Red Deer. In 1982 the company estimated that the ethylene plant would operate at 100 per cent capacity and, as a result, would create $60 million in income tax obligations, $45 million of which would go to the federal government and $15 million to the provincial government. However, the Feds put on an up front tax, the natural gas and gas liquids tax, which would supposedly gain $60 million a year from that plant, or double the the anticipated income tax revenue. Therefore, the Feds would be receiving in excess of $100 million, $105 million, and the Province would receive $15 million from income tax and, of course, would receive an additional $37 million from royalties on gas.

As a result of the natural gas and gas liquids tax, there was just enough of a marginal on the feedstocks to make it impossible for that plant to sell all its products. Therefore, instead of producing at 100 per cent capacity as planned and anticipated and for which markets were available before the federal tax was imposed, the plant was producing at 50 per cent, or half capacity. What was the result? The federal Government, instead of receiving $105 million as planned, instead of receiving the $45 million from income taxes that it would have received before it imposed the tax, will receive $20 million this year. The Province lost some $34 million in taxes and royalties. Therefore, the federal Government not only lost the extra $60

November 15, 1982

million in tax which it tried to collect but, in addition, cost themselves and the rest of Canada an additional $140 million. That is plain, stupid taxation. All the Government need do is reverse that stupid tax and it would reduce the deficit and put people back to work.

Second, the Government must cut red tape. Historically, for every three geologists working in the energy industry-those are the people who find the oil-one needed one paper shuffler. As a result of the National Energy Program, and goodness knows how many other things those geniuses in EMR have invented, the ratio is now reversed. Every geologist requires three paper shufflers to handle the red tape so he can do his job. We gnash our teeth about productivity and ask why we are so non-productive in this country. It is no wonder. All we do is produce work for paper shufflers. They do not produce anything but simply satisfy the bureaucrats in Ottawa, Edmonton, Regina and other capitals. Let us not blame it all on the Feds.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
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March 23, 1979

Hon. Alastair Gillespie (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and Minister of State for Science and Technology):

Eldorado Nuclear Limited reports as follows:

No.

March 23, 1979

Excise Tax Act

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
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March 21, 1979

Mr. Gillespie:

Nothing.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ENERGY SUPPLIES EMERGENCY ACT, 1979 MEASURE TO CONSERVE STOCKS
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March 21, 1979

Mr. Gillespie:

It surely was not.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ENERGY SUPPLIES EMERGENCY ACT, 1979 MEASURE TO CONSERVE STOCKS
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March 20, 1979

Mr. Gillespie:

The hon. member says it was a week ago today but he and his party filibustered this bill for five days. The Tory party took five days of precious House time at report stage. They took five days to go over a lot of ground that we went over in committee. I think that is scandalous and I think it is irresponsible.

When the House leaders met yesterday it would have been possible to come to the agreement which we were subsequently able to do in the House this afternoon. It would have been possible to do that yesterday and there would have been no necessity to move closure. I have no regrets that we moved closure and time allocation. I think this is what brought them to their senses.

Throughout this debate we have witnessed a party that says there is no emergency now. They say: "We do not really have to worry about any emergency for weeks or months to come. Forget Iran. Do not worry about multinational corporations and how they are going to reallocate crude oil supplies. We do not need a bill like this. There is not going to be any emergency."

As I have indicated, that relaxed attitude pervaded the behaviour of the official opposition throughout. It was best exemplified by their attitude last week when we spent five days

on report stage, three of which were spent on one of their own amendments. They said that amendment was needed in order to give parliament time to consider the important question of a national emergency-a national emergency which the Government of Canada would declare. They wanted to remove the provision which requires parliament to deal with the declaration of an emergency in three days. In other words, they wanted the energy supplies allocation board and the whole mandatory allocation and rationing system to be left in a position of some uncertainty. That is the only interpretation that can be put on their remarks unless one adopts the interpretation of the House leader of the official opposition when he said: "You do not need approval of parliament after three days' debate because you can move closure". He was saying we could use the power to move closure and require only two days' debate, whereas in the bill the government has provided for three days and a certainty of conclusion of the debate.

It was apparent that the opposition was not interested in bringing this matter to a conclusion until they were forced to by the political backlash when the country became aware that they were spinning the debate out. I think the country was aware that this bill went through the House once before. There was something like eight days' consideration in committee and eight days for second reading once before. This time we had three days for second reading, five days at report stage, and eight to twelve meetings of the committee. It was clear that the attitude of the opposition to this bill, as to the possible emergency-indeed, probable emergency if one listens to many of the experts on energy matters-is very relaxed and they are not anxious to see the bill passed before the House is dissolved. They would leave Canada without the power to deal with an energy emergency during a dissolution of parliament. I believe that is downright irresponsible.

This is not surprising when we think about the attitude of the opposition toward energy questions. It has been their record on energy for the length of this parliament. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) has never interested himself in energy policy questions. He has taken the view: "We will let Alberta decide; maybe Premier Lougheed will have an idea. I will not say anything; I will hang back and let others do it for me." He is incapable of putting Canada first, Mr. Speaker. Why else would he have ducked the important question of pricing? Why else would the Leader of the Opposition continue to repeat banalities with respect to Petro-Canada? He would like to get rid of it. The Leader of the Opposition has not been prepared to talk on the hard energy policy issues. He has abdicated any responsibility for energy policy questions.

One way that he might be able to justify that inactivity is to say that we do not need this bill because there is not going to be any emergency. It is surprising to us but, when we think about it, still consistent with the position of the opposition party when they take this relaxed attitude toward the necessity of providing legislation and powers to deal with an emergency. It is surprising that they would be prepared even at this late date to say: "Let the multinationals do the job. Let Exxon look

March 20,1979

after Canada; we do not need Petro-Canada. We are prepared to go with the multinationals to sort out Canada's problems." That position was put forward by the official critic for the Conservative party.

I am going to deal with the International Energy Agency and the Importance of Petro-Canada being part of the standing group on emergency questions at the International Energy Agency. The first amendment we dealt with a few moments ago was opposed by the official opposition. The official opposition did not want Petro-Canada to be the watchdog for Canada at the standing group on emergency questions in the International Energy Agency.

I talked about the opposition's relaxed attitude. That is something we have seen emerge in this debate, evidenced by their saying "let the multinationals do it" and their not being prepared to face up to pricing questions. As well it was evidenced by their opposition to Petro-Canada and the whole attitude toward the importance of getting this bill through and getting it through quickly.

Another issue in the debate, part of the official opposition's position, was that the government was asking for too much power. The official opposition said there was no emergency and that there would not be an emergency. Therefore, we could take all the time we wanted even though we will be facing an election without the powers to deal with one.

Let us look at some opposition charges. Most of those charges seem to be based on taking at face value a particular presentation made to the committee by the Ontario government, a presentation which examination has proved was based on a whole series of false premises and assumptions. It was one of the most shoddy pieces of work ever presented before a parliamentary committee. It was not based on any objective seeking for the truth. It was based, as I indicated in a public statement, on some misguided effort to try to embarrass the government. One can only speculate why the Conservative government of Ontario-perhaps itself in some difficulty with energy questions in Ontario-would take this moment to try to shift the limelight away from themselves and place it on us. As a result of that shoddy piece of work and inept presentation on the part of the spokesman for the Ontario government, upon examination of the case it seems the Ontario government has come out very much second best.

I regret the official energy critic for the Conservative party, the hon. member for Northumberland-Durham (Mr. Lawrence), has identified himself so quickly with some of the remarks in that presentation, arguments which suggested that through this bill the Government of Canada could bankrupt the gas transmission distribution system in Canada. That was the position of the Ontario government. However, the testimony placed before the committee clearly indicated that there are measures, protections and appeal mechanisms which can prevent any kind of arbitrary move. I believe that case has been made and made convincingly. I wait to hear whether we will

Order of Business

still hear that again from the hon. member for Northumberland-Durham.

The leader of the debate from the opposition side showed no readiness or willingness to look at the way the powers which the government was seeking in this bill could be controlled by parliament or how those powers would be made available and published in the form of amendments to allocation programs or orders dealing with mandatory allocation.

I believe it was the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Symes) who put his finger on it best when he said that it was quite clear that the amendments introduced by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin) and supported by the hon. member for Northumberland-Durham, the energy critic for the Tory party-which did not come to a vote because after a while I suspect the Tories became embarrassed by the nature of them-were designed to subvert the intentions of the act. If these amendments had been accepted by this House they would have so cut and emasculated-to use the words of the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) in some of his remarks-the administrative process that it would be impossible to deal with the emergency which this particular bill is designed to cope with in the event an emergency comes about. God hopes it does not, but let us be safe rather than sorry.

That has not been the attitude of the official opposition. As I have indicated, the position of the official opposition is to recognize no urgency. They do not recognize that the administration is complex or that it will be dealing with hundreds of thousands of separate transactions. It will be dealing with particular regions, and regional aspects differ from place to place in this great country. There is no recognition that priorities may be changed through the advice of the provinces. There has been no recognition that certainty is needed in the administration of emergency measures. The Tory opposition closed its eyes and stuck its head in the sand when it came to deal with this bill. Its intelligence has been covered up because it has been buried in the sand.

I have indicated that there is a provision for parliamentary approval after a declaration has been announced. There is provision in the act which requires that orders and amendments to orders be tabled before parliament so that Canadians may know what the emergency supplies allocation board is doing. I would be the first to recognize that there are very significant powers associated with this board. But when one is dealing with an emergency and something as strategic as energy on which our whole economy depends, surely it would be foolhardy not to provide the necessary powers and flexibility, and indeed, as we have, the necessary process of parliamentary approval, so that the job can be done.

There was a charge of a degree of unfairness somehow or other introduced into the administrative process, and no recognition that this possible unfairness could be redressed. Answers to those charges were also placed on the record and set out in detail during committee stage.

In the balance of my remarks I would like to deal with the International Energy Agency and the part it may have in

March 20, 1979

Order of Business

triggering the need by the Government of Canada to declare an emergency under the terms of this act.

I am looking at the clock, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to call it five o'clock and resume my remarks on this important aspect of the bill after the adjournment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ENERGY SUPPLIES EMERGENCY ACT, 1979 MEASURE TO CONSERVE STOCKS
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