Prime Minister meets with Calgary's energy industry leaders & business community
Groups concerned about pipelines and the postal strike rallied outside a downtown Calgary hotel where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will speak to leaders in the energy industry on Thursday afternoon.
Trudeau is in the city for a number of events and meetings with leaders in the energy industry, Calgary’s Mayor and the business community are among his planned events.
The Prime Minister made an affordable housing announcement in the morning.
“Today, as part of the National Housing Strategy, our government will invest $31 million to build a new 15 storey building known as Lumino C. Once completed Lumino C will add 121 state-of-the-art, affordable and accessible units for middle-class families to Calgary’s centre,” he said.
The visit comes one day after Finance Minister Bill Morneau released his fall economic and fiscal update.
Morneau is calling for an $18 billion deficit this year and says deficits won't start to decline until 2021-22.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta crude needs to find a way to get to markets other than the US, now that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the B.C. coast is in limbo.
He says the latest federal economic statement from Ottawa shows the Trudeau government is living on a different planet from his province and there was nothing to help Alberta crude oil producers weather a crushing price discount for their product.
“I just don’t think Ottawa gets how much the energy sector drives the economy in Canada. We all get it here in Albert, Ii is a huge dog. But they don’t get that so much of the economy is driven by what’s happening here in the energy sector,” said Ceci.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley spoke to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors on Thursday and talked about the pipeline expansion delay.
The fiscal update does not include any plans to increase oil market capacity by rail in the absence of new pipelines and Notely says she has asked Ottawa to invest in moving oil to market on rail cars.
“So I’ve written to the Prime Minister, as you all know, and we’ve outlined the business case for Ottawa to join us and to buy new trains. The business case outlines the plan to recover the cost. Scotia Bank reports that we need to clear 140,000 barrels per day and if that’s what’s needed, then that’s what we’ll do. And I’m also asking the federal government to prioritize the shipment of crude by rail, after grain, until new pipelines are built,” she said. “The bottom line, Ottawa needs to join Alberta to help ease the economic pain.”
The province estimates that the delay in the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project is costing the Canadian economy $80 million a day.
Prime Minister Trudeau delivered a keynote address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in the afternoon and talked about Alberta’s economy and the impact of the current price of oil on jobs here.
“Let’s be honest, people of Alberta have had a rough few years, they’re having a hard time making ends meet and they’re nervous for what comes next. For many people in this province they don’t know what their next job looks like or when they’re going to find it. I want you to know that I feel that frustration and I understand that anxiety. Status Quo cannot continue. The drop in oil prices have left many, many people around here without jobs. As a country we’re still fighting a decade long struggle to build pipelines to non-US markets. The price differential on Alberta oil is a real problem,” he said.
Trudeau was asked about Bill C-69 and what assurances he could give to international investors and First Nations that the bill would not harm profits or reduce royalties or exploration and production if it goes through.
“I think one of the best ways of reducing profits, reducing royalties and reducing production on people’s lands is to not get anything built and we don’t want to not get anything built. We want to actually move forward on a process that is going to get approval but also give clarity, give clear timelines and a predictable frame for international investors, for proponents of big projects. That’s what people have been asking for. Now on Bill C-69, we’ve been listening, we’ve been working, we’ve been making modifications as industries come forward and asked about things but I will highlight, for example, the Canadian Mining Association, which is responsible for the largest number of environmental assessment processes across the country on an annual basis is fully supportive of Bill C-69, because they see that it actually stops the clock less frequently than the existing regulations. It sets consultations further forward in the process so you have a better chance of finding out early if there are unreachable or unfixable problems in your process and it give that greater degree of certainty and clarity that is necessary,” he said.
He said that the alternative is to try and do what the previous government did and minimize assessment and partnerships with indigenous people, which doesn’t work.
A large crowd gathered outside the Hyatt Hotel where Trudeau will speak to energy leaders on Thursday afternoon. The group included those concerned about job action by Canada Post employees as well as pro-pipeline groups.
Cody Battershill is the founder of Canada Action and his organization is calling on Canadians to work together to support the natural resources sector.
“We’re here to send a clear, respectful and concise message to our federal government that we need action and we need action now. The time for talk and the time for promises is past. We have seen Northern Gateway, we’ve seen Energy East, we’ve seen really no action on Trans Mountain so our country is losing, it’s estimated, anywhere from $50 to $100 million every single day. Others have put this economic loss to the country up to $100 billion per year and we’re here to ask the federal government to do something about it.”
Battershill says he doesn’t see anything in the fed's fiscal update that will help the oil and gas sector and says oil and gas demand is growing globally but Canada is missing out.
“We have the highest environmental standards in the world but we’re selling the world’s cheapest oil and gas. We’ve watched the United States and other countries build pipelines and build infrastructure projects to export and to get the world pricing. We only have one customer and that’s the United States and we need to diversify our customers with pipelines to tidewater so we can take control of our economic future and our economic destiny,” he said.
Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi talked with energy leaders in the afternoon about market access and competitiveness.
Trudeau capped off the visit by attending the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival on Thursday evening.
Story Update | Prime Minister in #Calgary to meet with energy industry leaders & business community - A large crowd has gathered outside a #Calgary hotel where @JustinTrudeau will speak on Thursday afternoon, more here... https://t.co/TdgfDRQFyV #yyc pic.twitter.com/VrOJqVLaBh— CTV Calgary (@CTVCalgary) November 22, 2018