Mr. James Gillies (Don Valley):
Mr. Speaker, the very fact that we are debating this issue tonight demonstrates that for the last 14 years we have not had an energy policy in Canada. This government has demonstrated once again that it has no capacity for leadership, no criteria in its own mind to judge what it should be dealing with, and no idea of the priorities
February 20, 1979
which should be before it. This might be understandable, although not excusable, except for the fact that energy and energy needs have been at the forefront of debate in every country of the world during the past few years.
Because of the fact we do have energy resources in our nation, this government has been lulled into the feeling that we did not have to put in place a particular policy to meet the needs of Canadians. If there has been an energy policy of any sort by the government, it has to be described as some sort of vague sort of continentalism, a policy that was not based on the fundamental responsibility of any government, which is to protect the sovereignty of its own country, to protect the needs of its people, and to guard the rights of all its citizens.
In the development of energy, this government has been so caught up in the wrong issues; it has missed the fundamentals; it has been so concerned about extending government control into the private sector that it has failed to meet the basic energy needs of the Canadian people.
The reality of the Canadian situation is that we have no energy policy. We have not had an energy policy since the fifties. In those days we had a policy. It was a very simple policy. It was the right policy, and it was based on three very simple propositions.
One was to increase the supply of energy in Canada. This was done by the development of a selective price policy favorable to the western oil producers. Second, it stated that the slow growth areas of the nation should not have to pay as high a price for energy as more prosperous regions, and this was achieved by having Atlantic Canada use offshore oil for its needs. Finally, any excess production was to be exported so that we could help solve our balance of payments problems.
This was the policy developed in the Diefenbaker years, which people liked to deride. However, it was a policy that worked, and it was a policy that was important for all Canadians. There was neither conflict with provinces nor with industry, and there was protection for all Canadians regardless of where they lived.
Canadians could survive the neglect of not having an energy policy throughout the last decade as long as there was cheap energy throughout the world. However, that situation changed in 1973 with the development of the OPEC cartel. When the day of inexpensive energy was over, every Canadian had the right to expect that this government would develop a new viable energy policy, a policy that would increase the supply of energy in this country, particularly oil and natural gas, and a policy that would assure that every Canadian, because we are a country rich in energy, would have the energy he needed.
Instead we have today a situation where there is a portion of Canadians who have no access to energy that is produced in this country. We in this party do not believe that there are second-class citizens in any part of Canada. We do not believe in an energy policy that does not include all Canadians. We believe that a government that apparently has no concern about all of Atlantic Canada in its so-called energy strategy is
a government which does not deserve the confidence of the people of Canada.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: ENERGY SUPPLIES EMERGENCY ACT, 1979 MEASURE TO CONSERVE STOCKS