Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online
WEYBURN – On Feb. 5, Ottawa Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre announced that he was “running for prime minister,” his way of saying he was entering the federal Conservative leadership race after the ouster of Erin O’Toole was leader.
It is apparent, now, that he’s been laying the groundwork for this run for quite some time. In 2019, he attended the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show in Weyburn, and took the stage briefly, something uncommon for an Ontario member of Parliament. He was joined at the time by Quebec MP Gerard Deltell, member of Parliament for Louis-Saint-Laurent, who also addressed the crowd.
Asked why he was present, Poilievre replied, “to show Ontario’s strong support for the Western energy sector.
“Trudeau has created the unfortunate sense in Western Canada that people out here all alone. I’m here to tell them that that’s not true. Ontarians strongly support pipeline construction, to get world prices for Canadian oil, and to sell Canadian energy to Canadian consumers. So, I wanted to be here today to support the strong vibrant, world-class energy sector that has helped build Canada’s national economy.”
Did Poilievre, at the time, see any possibility of the Energy East Pipeline being revived?
“Well, the proposed Energy East would have run right through my riding, and I made no bones about my support for that project. Trudeau killed it. Andrew Scheer is now proposing an east-west energy corridor, which would connect Canadian energy with Canadian consumers and get our energy to tidewaters. He believes that corridor would clear a right-of-way so that business could build and jobs could be created. That would be a triple win, a win for eastern (and) western energy workers, eastern refinery workers and Ontario steel workers. It would also allow Quebec and Manitoba to sell their abundant and clean hydro electricity to other provinces at low prices,” he said.
In Western Canada, particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the TC Energy mainline, TransCanada Highway, and Canadian Pacific Mainline all fall within a relatively close corridor that’s perhaps 30 kilometres wide at places, and often less. Asked about this, Poilievre said, “It would depend on the consultation with business, First Nations and customers. You have to connect where the energy is to where it can be bought. So what Scheer’s proposing is a focused consultation to determine a right-of-way passage, get the regulatory approvals out of the way, and then let business, with private money, decide what to build, and how.”
The environmental assessments would be done in advance, allowing projects to go ahead unimpeded by that hurdle. “Exactly,” Poilievre said. “It can combine all the environmental assessments into one single process, and then clear the regulatory right-of-way, so that business can build with private money.”
He said he wasn’t in a position to say how long it would take, “But I know that time is of the essence. We can’t afford to waste any more time.
Regarding Bill C-69, the Impacts Assessment Act, which has since passed, Poilievre said, “It’s a terrible bill. Our goal should be to kill Bill C 69. Amendments are not. You know, anything that that waters down the bill is an improvement over the bill itself, but still, our goal should be to kill it.”
The same should have applied to Bill C-48, the tanker ban bill, he said.
In the six months preceding the oil show, held in June of 2019, there had been more activism in the oilpatch against the federal government’s energy policies than in the previous decade, combined. People who generally never protest anything were taking part in protest convoys. Asked about that, Poilievre said, “Well, it’s time the energy sector fought back. You know, quite frankly, for the longest time, the energy sector believed it could just sit back and stay out of politics. The lesson of the last three years is that if you don’t take an interest in politics, politics will take an interest in you.”
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