Hon. Ron Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Kelowna—Lake Country in beautiful British Columbia, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-628 and share how and why our government is committed to protecting the safety of Canadians and the safety of the environment. It is not either/or, but a balanced approach. We have taken significant action to strengthen the safety and security of Canada's energy transportation system, whether it be rail, pipeline or tanker safety.
Bill C-628 proposes to ban oil tankers off the coast of British Columbia. It is founded on perceived shortcomings of Canada's energy system that are simply not accurate.
Over the next few minutes, I would like to share with Canadians the broad range of concrete measures already in place and the new actions we are taking to build on Canada's strong world-class safety system. That is because members on this side of the House understand they are essential to achieving our goal of energy market diversification, which is itself crucial to ensuring ongoing job creation, economic growth and prosperity for Canadians.
I would like to explain why I believe it is so important that we diversify our energy markets.
In 2012, Canada produced over 3.38 million barrels of crude oil and almost 3.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. All of that activity supported roughly 190,000 direct jobs and an additional 70,000 indirect jobs. Then there are revenues to federal, provincial and territorial governments from the oil and gas industry, which averaged approximately $25 billion annually over the past five years. That money paid for everything from roads and bridges to schools, hospitals in communities from coast to coast to coast. These multi-billion numbers are not surprising given the oil and gas sector accounted for 7.5% of GDP in 2013, and $83 billion of capital expenditures. Industry also represented $117 billion in exports in 2013.
To say the energy sector plays a major role in our high standard of living is an understatement. I believe it fuels the high quality of life of Canadians.
However, it is not something we can take for granted. The reality is that the global energy landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, creating both new opportunities and new challenges for Canada. On the plus side, there is an enormous and growing appetite for our energy supply. Demand for Canadian oil is strongest in the rapidly growing markets of the Asia-Pacific region.
The International Energy Agency predicts that, by 2035, the world will need a third more energy than is being consumed today. Most of this increase is due to the need for energy in emerging economies. Canada can capably meet that need as Canadian oil and gas production through innovation and new technology is expected to grow dramatically over the same period.
If we want to maintain our high standard of living and ensure governments have the resource sector royalties to fund a wide array of social programs, we must diversify our energy markets to have the funds to proceed in this manner.
While it appears the NDP by bringing forward this bill does not appreciate how crucial this issue is to the lives and livelihoods of Canadians, I can assure members that other government leaders across Canada do.
At the 2014 Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference, federal, provincial and territorial ministers recognized that the continued advancement of energy infrastructure was fundamental to gaining access to new markets and generating economic growth. Ministers also reaffirmed the need to coordinate our efforts to reinforce the diversification of Canada's natural resources by ensuring the safe transport of resources by pipeline, marine and rail.
We understand and fully agree that public safety and environmental protection are necessary conditions for energy development to proceed.
As I said earlier, it is a balanced approach; it is not either/or. That is precisely what responsible resource development is all about. It sends a clear signal that our government is determined to protect public safety and the health of the environment, based on sound science and world-class standards.
Between 2000 and 2011, federally regulated pipelines boasted a safety record of over 99.999% We are proud of the action we have taken to ensure Canada has a world-class regulatory framework and a means for the safest form of transportation of our energy products.
Our Government has introduced stringent new safety standards to prevent oil spills from happening and new navigational supports for tanker ships to better protect our coastal waters.
We have nine acts of Parliament governing marine safety, and that is before we factor in the tough new regulatory oversight and enforcement capabilities provided under Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act.
Thanks to tough legislation and technological innovations, there have been no spills from double-hulled tankers in Canadian waters. Nor have there ever been spills from tankers escorted by tugs with a local pilot aboard.
Especially important, we are ensuring that polluters, not taxpayers, will be responsible for costs in the unlikely event of a spill. We have brought in polluter pays legislation for both offshore and onshore, with billion dollar conditions for spill response and cleanup.
These measures underline that when it comes to transporting our natural resources, whether by pipeline, rail, or tanker, our government will never compromise on safety.
Our government has also given the independent National Energy Board the necessary resources to increase annual inspections of pipelines by 50%. The board has doubled the number of annual comprehensive safety audits to identify pipeline issues before incidents occur. Equally important, the National Energy Board now has the authority to impose substantial financial penalties on companies that do not comply with safety and environmental regulations. It can levy fines of up to $100,000 a day for as long as the infractions are not addressed.
It is disappointing that the member who put forward the bill we are debating today and who purports to be in favour of improving safety voted against each and every one of the measures I just mentioned.
Canada's outstanding safety record should assure Canadians that our energy resources can be developed safely and can in turn create good jobs and economic growth here at home. Our government's approach to promoting responsible resource development is the right one.
I believe that Canadians simply cannot trust the New Democrats to protect our economy or our environment. They oppose every form of resource development. They vote against our legislation to increase pipeline safety measures. Then they propose this bill that would hurt the Canadian economy. Bill C-628 risks undoing all the good being achieved under our plan for responsible resource development and would come at a great cost to Canadians. For that reason, we cannot support this bill.
In closing, having spent the first 27 years of my life in Alberta, I understand the oil and gas economy and how important it is not only to Alberta but to all of Canada. Given my last 25-plus years calling beautiful British Columbia home, I understand the value of the energy industry and also tourism, the environment, safety, and the economy. They are all brought together. It is not either/or, as I have alluded to before.
As a father of three daughters and three grandsons, I want a future for our Canadian economy, for our community of Kelowna Lake Country, for British Columbia, and for all Canadians. I believe that if this bill is passed, it would take us backward and would not help create those jobs we want in the future.
This is Easter week, a week of hurt and a week of hope. My hope is that we will work together to manage our resources responsibly. We are called to be good stewards. We have abundant resources across Canada. However, this type of legislation would not help our industry and would not help to create jobs. We want to have a balanced approach. I believe that by working together, we can create jobs and grow the economy to achieve long-term prosperity and a good quality of life for all North Americans
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Canada Shipping Act