In Parliament Jan 25: Emergency Debate on Keystone XL

The Speaker granted my request for an Emergency Debate following President Joe Biden's revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit.
Listen to my remarks here - (the transcript is also printed below the video).
"We are losing in this environmentally, Canada is losing economically, and North America is losing from an energy security perspective."

 

Transcript of my remarks and the Questions and Answers:

Mr. Greg McLean (Calgary Centre, CPC) 

    Madam Speaker, I am thankful on behalf of all people in the western Canadian resource industry, my constituents and all Canadians of good faith who still believe that this House is a place where debates on this country's most important matters should be held openly. I am also honoured to be here speaking among a handful of my colleagues tonight while representing the deep desire of so many of our colleagues across Canada who wanted to speak this evening to this gut-wrenching decision. We need to address here the rationale, the repercussions and the remedial options as a country going forward.

    Keystone XL, until last week, was a pipeline that has been in the works for over 12 years, a pipeline that would have connected one of Canada's great and valuable world-class resources directly with the market that needs this specific resource more than anything else, a pipeline that, like all infrastructure, got better in design with time. The version being built now is designed to be carbon neutral in its operation, a boon to the renewable energy industry. It is a pipeline that would have provided increased energy security to North America in the clouds of evermore uncertainty in the political landscape, a pipeline providing valuable jobs and benefits to thousands of workers, indigenous organizations and land owners in two countries, a pipeline built upon the goodwill developed between two of the world's advanced democracies in delivering sound outcomes for the health of both our nations' citizens for decades now.

    Now Keystone XL is a symbol of the victory of loud, self-interested, regressive voices overruling sound regulation and environmental science, a symbol of empty political rhetoric and repetitive misinformation triumphing over an actually better environmental outcome, a symbol that beneficial work undertaken and billions of dollars in good faith can be overruled by fiat, without consequence. Most of all, for Canadians it is a symbol of what happens when our elected federal politicians sit on their hands and fail to advocate for Canada's proactive solutions for environmental advancement, indigenous participation in our economies and building on our competitive strengths.

    Let us assess the very real negative outcomes that are being felt today. Let us remember the workers and their families, the ones who trained and built careers focused on adding value and getting world-class resources to market. Let us remember that, in the end, the business we are in, as politicians, is about looking after people. In that respect, the current government needs to do better.

    With this stroke of a pen, thousands of well-trained, middle-class Canadians will have worse outcomes in their lives. Let us think about those men and women for a moment now and how their lives have changed suddenly and, in their view, nonsensically. Do they think the current government is working for them? The failure here is the lack of concerted advocacy by the government on issues that matter to these workers and the technologically and environmentally advanced solutions they provide.

    Where was the government while the option of cancelling this important project was advanced and discussed?

     Nine months ago, the prospect of this cancellation became very real. Two months ago, the possibility was crystal clear. We have seen the current government act on files when it felt it should be active. We have seen a fulsome reaction to objectionable tariffs against our Canadian aluminum and steel industries. We have seen the leadership of the current government in taking actions above and beyond accepted democratic norms to save jobs in one engineering company. Last week, the workers and indigenous stakeholders in this project got the benefit of a line item in a phone call between our Prime Minister and a new American president. The dichotomy is quite clear.

    In my previous work, decisions such as this presented an opportunity to assess winners and losers, usually presenting a path forward. Much has been lost here.

    I have spoken about the workers. I have spoken about indigenous reconciliation. Keystone XL had equity representation from indigenous participants, who would have made great steps forward on a path to economic reconciliation. I have spoken about the energy security and the environmental advances that have been thwarted. I have spoken about the billions of dollars and years of planning and building that will leave a piece of world-class infrastructure half finished.

  (1855)  

    I have not spoken enough about the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship, but that is a huge casualty in this decision. Last year, we watched this government accept that it had badly negotiated a renewed North American free trade agreement. Real negotiators saw through our team's virtue signalling and inability to solve difficult issues. I listened as our lead minister on the file stated that her greatest success was removing the energy-sharing agreement between the previous text of NAFTA. I knew then that this government did not understand the nature of the trade between our two countries.

    The U.S. government's decision on Keystone XL shows that Canada's energy trade with our dominant energy trading partner is expendable. That is not comfort. That is real risk.

    Canada-U.S. trade was solidified three decades ago by leaders on both sides who understood how strong we were together. This government alludes to a special relationship with the incoming U.S. administration. If so, it needs to be utilized. The initial results are discouraging. If they are not solving big issues together as two leading democracies that are also interdependent should be, clearly something has been lost.

    The outcome here is severe for our country. We have an economy that will not grow as a result of what has happened here nearly as much as it should. Our balance of trade will suffer significantly. In 2019, the number was $16 billion that we took because of the differential we received on our main resource that we export. Our balance of trade siphoning off Canadian value to other countries is huge and is going to continue to grow.

    Jobs are being exported from Canada because of these decisions. Work here is being cancelled. Workers here are being laid off. All of this deserves so much more action than an indifferent shrug from this Prime Minister.

  (1900)  

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes) 

    Before I go to questions and comments, I want to come back to the point of order that was raised and my decision. I will refer members to chapter 13 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, which, on page 617, says:

    Speakers have consistently ruled that visual displays or demonstrations of any kind used by Members to illustrate their remarks or emphasize their positions are out of order. Similarly, props of any kind have always been found to be unacceptable in the Chamber.

    I would ask members to please be very collaborative with the decision I have just indicated. I know that it is a time when we are wearing masks to protect ourselves and others, but members are to ensure that the messaging on them is not being used to put a point across.

[Translation]

Keystone XL Pipeline

[S. O. 52]

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Mr. Mario Simard (Jonquière, BQ) 

    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague.

    My colleague and I are on the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, which recently devoted six meetings to the forestry industry. I wonder if what is happening with Keystone XL is an opportunity to think about Alberta's transition away from fossil fuels.

    Does my colleague agree with me that there should be a Canadian strategy to diversify Alberta's economy rather than sticking with fossil fuels, our old standards?

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Mr. Greg McLean (Calgary Centre, CPC) 

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Bloc Québécois for his question.

    In my opinion, this is a provincial jurisdiction.

[English]

    The issue with provincial jurisdiction in diversifying the economy is something that the Canadian government should probably not tread on in this case, and I am certain my colleague in the Bloc Québécois would respect that as well.

    I think the other point we want to make here, when we talk about transitioning, is how diversified the actual Alberta economy is. Energy is going to continue to be a part of our world for decades to come, and a good part of that energy will continue to come, as it has continuously here, according to all international organizations, from fossil fuels. Every indication we have is that the Alberta oil output will continue to increase. Finding a market is going to be the main problem, otherwise we will be beholden in the future to foreign sources of oil in the world. This oil is better economically, and this oil is better environmentally. This is the transition we are moving toward with the technology.

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Mr. Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, NDP) 

    Madam Speaker, I remain consistently amazed at how Conservatives seem to be completely oblivious to where we are in the world at present, with regard to climate change and the looming climate disaster that is heading our way. We quite literally cannot continue to go the way we are going for decades and decades, but I want to concentrate my remarks on what the Conservatives are proposing to do. This was not exactly a secret. The Biden administration made clear what its decision would be with Keystone XL.

    Are the Conservatives proposing to levy trade sanctions to sue the new administration? In my opinion, that would be just fantastic for Canada-U.S. relations with the new administration. I just want to get clear what the Conservatives are trying to do with the new U.S. administration.

  (1905)  

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Mr. Greg McLean 

    Madam Speaker, yes, we are very focused on how we actually decarbonize the economy, including in Alberta in the energy sector. I think all efforts to advance that cause are being ignored by my colleague in the other party. I really would hope he pays attention to all the progress that is being made in industries across Canada in addressing decarbonization, and looking at how that actually affects the world.

    In this project, members can take a look at the exactly 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from the oil going toward the gulf refineries, as opposed to the other oil that would be refined in that location. We are actually much further ahead with a zero-CO2-emission transportation network, taking it from one of the world's greatest resources, the Alberta oil sands, down to the market that processes it most efficiently, and displacing foreign oil that has a much heavier environmental footprint.

    We are losing in this environmentally. Canada is losing economically, and North America is losing from an energy security perspective