March 25, 2022
My colleague MP Lianne Rood (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in SW Ontario) was in Calgary
and joined us at our volunteer appreciation event on March 12.
The invasion of Ukraine has been top of mind for the last several weeks in Parliament. Conservatives are calling for Visa-free entry to Canada for Ukrainian refugees, but the government continues to refuse. The Minister’s argument is that it would take time to reconfigure the Immigration Department’s computer system, but IT specialists have told me that is a nonsense excuse. What’s the real reason? No one knows.
It reminds me of the government’s response in Afghanistan, where paperwork, red tape and gross inefficiency has put lives in danger. Canada is doing it again, prioritizing process over human lives.
Conservatives have also made a number of common-sense recommendations to the government about strengthening sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. This government doesn’t like to take advice, but we will continue pressing.
Meanwhile, I am also focusing on issues related to global energy security within a continuing framework of emissions control. Conservatives are also focused on ways to alleviate the significant bite of inflation. This government says it can do nothing about inflation, but that is frankly a cop-out. Yes, some factors are international in scope, but that does not excuse the government from looking at the impact of its own actions, and considering options to relieve the burden on Canadians (like, for example, deferring the increase in the carbon tax scheduled for April 1).
We are expecting a federal budget on an as-yet unspecified date, likely the second week of April. Rumours are that increased oil prices will give the government a revenue bonanza, but instead of sensibly applying the surplus funds to deficit and debt, the Finance Minister is expected to spend it all!
PS – does anyone else see the irony in the government gleefully spending funds generated by an industry they are intent on shutting down?
The newly announced Liberal-NDP partnership is only going to result in more spending, in the name of keeping Justin Trudeau in power comfortably until 2025.
While the NDP has been propping up Mr. Trudeau for years, it is now official and the price tag will be huge.
ENERGY SECURITY: One Implication of the Russian Invasion
Vladimir Putin gets a lot of Russia’s money from the sale of oil and gas to Europe – at the beginning of March, it amounted to over US$ 750 million per day – but the world hasn’t been able to cut off that flow of revenue because Europe needs the oil and gas. The transition to intermittent sources of energy can’t replace those fossil fuels, and Germany is even reverting to burning more coal.
It is frustrating that Canada has, for years now, blocked projects that could have provided an alternative for Europe, and a powerful tool to counter Russia’s aggression.
And I find it a bit embarrassing that our Prime Minister is calling on OPEC countries to meet the world’s energy needs, when Canada could have been that provider of a secure energy source for the world.
To the point – this government put roadblocks in the way of an Energy East pipeline that would have taken oil to the east coast; has blocked an LNG plant in the Saguenay region of Quebec that could export gas to Europe; and is now ragging the puck on approving an oil project at Bay du Nord in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. These are just the examples in the Eastern part of Canada, and there are other examples – you probably know them well – but
Canada has followed a deliberate policy of refusing to be a reliable, ethical supplier of oil and gas to the world. Instead, we allow countries like Russia, Nigeria, Algeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia to fill the gap.
One step we could take more quickly is to increase the flow of oil to the United States, to enable them to replace Russian oil imports with less reliance on these less stable and less responsible countries. Is the government talking to President Biden and to Canada’s industry about these options? No one knows, but I have my doubts.
It is too late for Canada to fix the error now for this crisis, but surely one takeaway should be the absolute understanding that our current policy is not only bad for Canada, but bad for the world.
Liberals and NDP, however, continue to oppose Canada exporting its ethical product to replace supply from unreliable and irresponsible countries, as recently as a vote on March 21.
DOES CANADA IMPORT OIL FROM RUSSIA?
The Minister of Natural Resources has been quite unclear on this point, which you’d think is something the Minister would know about.
First, the government proudly announced that Canada would ban the import of oil from Russia. The problem is (and this government is always more worried about virtue signalling than doing something meaningful), Canada hasn’t imported crude oil from Russia since 2019. So the government banned the import of something we don’t import.
When I asked the Minister about this in the House and at the Natural Resources Committee, he didn’t seem to understand the difference between crude oil and refined or semi-refined oil products such as diesel – which Canada DOES import from Russia. In 2021, we imported products worth $347 million, and were still importing Russian oil products when I called on the government to ban the import of these products.
Having been educated, the government did then say they would ban oil products as well.
But, wait, no date for the ban. I followed up with the Minister by letter, following our exchanges in the House and in Committee, asking him to commit to a timeline to actually do it. Canada is funding Russia to the tune of almost $1 million per day. But as with so many things in this government, it is all about the announcement, but the implementation slides to the bottom of the to-do list.
The whole incident is concerning in that it illustrates the Minister’s superficial understanding of the industry he oversees. But no surprise – no answer to my question.
Read my letter on my website.
IS THE GOVERNMENT SERIOUS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS?
Let’s talk about Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS):
The government is still ragging the puck on incentives for CCUS, which the IPCC identifies as critical for an effective climate control strategy. I presented a Private Members Bill on CCUS in the last Parliament. The Liberals voted it down, but said they would introduce their own similar legislation. To date, no action at all on that promise. There are rumours CCUS will be included in the April budget, but hampered by conditions that will reduce its effectiveness. The United States continues to move quickly past Canada with this impactful new technology.
My direct discussions with Minister Wilkinson on this policy indicate that he (and the other Minister of Environment, Steven Guilbeault) are opposed to any tax credit which will include Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Yet, the tax regime we are trying to emulate is the 45Q in the U.S. – where many CCUS technology jobs have migrated over the past four years, since they introduced the tax credit – and it includes EOR! Canada will not regain its highly-prized leadership in this environmental technology development unless we provide at least the same economic incentive as that provided by the U.S. When I make this point with the Minister, he defers the matter to the decision of the Minister of Finance.
It’s one more illustration of this government’s practice of virtuous words over viable, productive outcomes for Canada and for the environment.
BAY DU NORD: Government Slowly Killing the Project with Delays
The Liberal government is stalling approval of the Bay du Nord project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, despite a recommendation for approval by the Canadian Impact Assessment Agency last August. The Liberal government has delayed a decision twice, most recently giving itself an extension until next month.
This new project is crucial for Canada and the Atlantic region. It will generate over $14 billion in economic activity, $3.5 billion in government revenues, 22 million hours of employment, and attract a private sector investment of $11 billion to get it off the ground.
Canadian energy is in demand. The only thing standing in the way of our jobs, prosperity, and the production of the world’s most ethically produced energy, is the Liberal government.
This is just another example of the usual games the Liberal government plays to delay, block, and move the goalposts midway to kill major energy projects in Canada. Energy East, Trans Mountain Pipeline, and the Teck Frontier project are good examples of this – and now we are seeing the same ‘delay to death’ tactics with the Bay du Nord project.
Canada has what the world needs. Canadian oil and gas is produced to the highest environmental and social standards and is of the highest quality. We should be filling demand while supporting jobs and good pay cheques for Canadians.
My colleagues and I are calling on the Liberal government to listen to the recommendation of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and approve the Bay du Nord project now. Liberals like to pretend they are the party of science and they listen to the experts – listen now.
AROUND CALGARY CENTRE
We’ve just come off a Constituency Week, and I had the chance to meet with numerous constituents and visit several events and organizations.
Arts Commons President Alex Sarian arranged a tour for me, and an update on the Arts Commons Transformation project. I saw how they have embraced technology to break down barriers of cultural participation, as in this broadcast booth.
MP Lianne Rood joined me for a visit to the Alexandra Centre’s winter festival which provides community programming for Inglewood, Ramsay, Beltline, Victoria Park, and East Village.
I visited the Calgary Housing Company’s housing units in Manchester, where we discussed affordable housing issues and I learned more about the resident-led programs, including their pantry and diaper program.
Volunteer Appreciation event on March 12 at South Block (the old Wurst) on 4th Street SW.
TAX CLINICS FOR LOW INCOME AND SENIORS
My wife Ruth Pogue is one of the volunteer tax preparers. Call for an appointment if you qualify and want help.
Please get in touch if there’s anything my office can do for you.
Greg McLean, M.P.