Liberal MP promotes party's energy policy
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 03:08 pm
Alberta’s energy sector is key to Canada’s economic success and new pipelines need to be built to get oil and gas to international markets, said a leading Liberal MP during a visit to the foothills last week.
MP Geoff Regan said the energy sector is important to the economy in Alberta and Canada and is a vital job creator for the country.
Regan, who is the Liberal Party’s Natural Resources critic and the MP for Halifax West, said it will remain important for decades to come and natural resources should be developed in a way that is environmentally responsible.
“Clearly the oil and gas industry is a hugely important part of our economy, we think it’s important that it be developed in a way that is environmentally sustainable,” he said. “I think most Canadians see that as more and more obvious these days.”
Regan toured the Turner Valley Gas Plant on April 26 during a visit to the riding ahead of the coming Macleod by-election.
He said the party and leader Justin Trudeau recognize the importance of increasing international trade and exports of energy resources to grow Canada’s economy.
Regan said Alberta’s energy industry benefits communities across Canada, including many in his home province of Nova Scotia.
“I come from a region of the country, Atlantic Canada, where there are communities that are benefiting tremendously from the fact that they have people who travel on a regular basis to Alberta to work and then come home,” he said.
Regan said pipelines are needed to ensure producers get the best price for oil and gas resources. He noted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has spoken out in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline because it’s important for both the Canadian and American economies. He also said the proposed Energy East pipeline across Canada would likely receive support from Eastern Canada communities. Not only would it allow Alberta oil to be refined in New Brunswick, it would also allow exports to overseas markets.
According to Regan, the federal government needs to do more to build a “social license” to support its case to get pipelines built.
“One of the reasons we haven’t succeeded in getting approval for Keystone is that this government hasn’t built the social license for it,” he said. “If we were seen by the world as taking reasonable action, serious action on climate change we would have, I think, succeeded by now in getting approval.”
Regan said there needs to be a strict process to ensure the environment is protected.
“We believe in having stringent environmental reviews, if the environmental situation is enough that it shouldn’t go there, so be it,” he said. “But, let’s recognize the importance of this to our economy and let’s also make sure we work to protect our environment.”
After touring the Turner Valley Gas Plant, Regan said the federal government could play a role in helping to get the Turner Valley Gas Plant cleaned up and reopened as a historic site. He said it could highlight the industry’s development and importance not just for Alberta, but for Canada.
“It is important for getting a perspective of what life was like, of how our economy developed, how people lived at a certain time,” he said. “All of those things give you a better perspective on today.”
Macleod Liberal candidate Dustin Fuller said the Conservative government hasn’t worked constructively with groups affected by pipelines or others who have expressed concerns over them. He said the government needs to do more to listen to what people have to say to find solutions
“The troubles with the pipelines is you have a government in Ottawa imposing their will,” he said.
Macleod Conservative candidate John Barlow disagreed with Regan and Fuler on the government’s record building social license. He said there have been advances in the industry to build on environmental practices in Canada and the country has a strong environmental record.
“Canada has some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world,” he said. “We know that our natural resources, especially the oil and gas industry, are the engines that are driving our economy right now.”
Barlow agreed the Turner Valley Gas Plant site has been overlooked for years.
He said it could become a leading centre at a national level to inform people about the industry, its history and its importance.
“This would be an incredible opportunity for us in southern Alberta, not just Turner Valley, but Black Diamond and the MD of Foothills, to make the Turner Valley Gas Plant into a national energy centre,” said Barlow.
He said provincial and federal governments and industry could all step up to contribute funding to the site.