Senator Doug Black says something has to give in the ongoing dispute over pipelines and Alberta’s energy industry.
Black, a Calgary native, spoke at the Rotary Club of Red Deer luncheon on Monday at the Pidherney Curling Centre.
He says no one has been able to explain to him why there is so much anti-Alberta and anti-oil sentiment across the country.
“People have bought into this narrative that we are not developing energy responsibly in terms of our environmental obligations, which is simply wrong,” he says. “When you compare Canadian development of energy to any other place in the world, we are the gold standard. The only people who don’t seem to know that are Canadians.”
Black says it was Christmastime last year when he personally invited Quebec premier Francois Legault to tour Alberta to how responsible the energy industry is, but no response was given.
Black says Alberta Premier-designate Jason Kenney will also have to walk a fine line when it comes to dealing with the federal government on energy matters.
“I believe honey attracts more flies than vinegar, and I tend to believe conciliation and cooperation is best. But you have to have somebody who’s prepared to be conciliatory back. We saw that through Premier Notley’s government. She worked very hard to be conciliatory to try and reach a bargain and it didn’t work out so well,” Black recalls.
“The incoming premier, for whom I have tremendous respect, I think he needs to sit down with the prime minister to see if the terms of a grand bargain can be worked out. If not, Alberta has to sit down and say ‘How do we protect our interests here?'”
The carbon tax and the cap on oil sands emissions should be chips in play at the pipeline poker table, Black suggests.
Furthermore, Black believes Bill C-48, which proposes a tanker ban in northern B.C., needs to be scrapped entirely. Bill C-69 should also go in the shredder, but that isn’t as realistic, he admits.
“The industry is saying we have to have some form of certainty. It’s been too uncertain for too long and investment continues to flee,” he explains. “The answer here is to amend that bill to make it workable so people will actually propose projects in this country and we’ll actually have projects approved.”
Black says when all is said and done, the expansion of Trans Mountain will happen, whether it’s this summer or sometime after the federal election, and that there will likely be a large First Nations component in ownership.
“We are in a very difficult spot, and we have been in difficult spots before,” he says of Albertans. “We need to stick together, come up with a plan, and execute the plan. I’m hopeful that this very unpleasant situation is just not sustained. It’s too negative for Canada and it’s hurting badly.”