My Speech on Bill C-235 Building a Green Prairie Economy Act

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to speak in the House of Commons, and it is my honour to do so tonight on this bill.

I will begin by saying that I was pleased to enjoy the remarks of the member for Winnipeg South Centre in the first hour of third reading. I look forward to his participation in this debate. He should know that he has my best wishes and my congratulations for bringing this bill to third reading, although I do not support the bill and I am going to say why in a moment.

It is actually quite astonishing to me that this bill has made it to third reading and seems likely to pass, based on the remarks we have heard from other parties tonight. I say it is astonishing because this bill will do nothing other than compel a process, which the people affected do not want, by a federal government on unwilling provinces in furtherance of objectives, which the people of the provinces affected are not in agreement, in order to report back to a federal government that does not listen and has a track record for which it can be expected it will impose further harm on the three Canadian provinces that have already been severely harmed by the government.

For the benefit of those who were not here in the 42nd Parliament, the mover of this bill was the minister of natural resources. During his tenure the natural resource sector endured unprecedented capital flight estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The global investment community ran away from Canada and moved its money to Texas, North Dakota, Mexico, North Africa and, sadly and tragically, to Russia, where the fruit of this capital reallocation is being used to finance a murderous war against innocent people in Ukraine.

The human cost of that capital flight from Canada was 200,000 jobs lost in the energy sector. Many of these people live in my riding. I had grown men in their fifties reduced to tears in my office on many occasions as they told me of the hopelessness and despair they had suffered as a result of the mass layoffs following the election of the Liberal government.

Among the very first things the Liberal government did when it was elected was cancel the northern gateway pipeline. Then the member, during his tenure as minister, and the government chased Kinder Morgan out of Canada and bought the Trans Mountain pipeline. Instead of being completed and in operation with private money, creating thousands of upstream jobs, it is now a much-delayed project on its way to becoming a bloated government boondoggle, which it may not be able to ultimately sell.

The member now wants to force a federal framework on three unwilling prairie provinces and ask members of this House to support it. I will not do it. I do not agree with the member or the government of which he was a minister, that it needs a framework for policies of a federal government that is bent on destroying the livelihoods of thousands of my constituents who get up and go to work every day providing the necessities of life for Canadians and people all over the world.

Without affordable, reliable and abundant energy, there is no quality of life for anyone. A warm home, affordable food, basic transportation, light, electronic communication, literally every single manufactured product that anyone wears or uses is only possible with access to such affordable, reliable and abundant energy. Western Canada abounds with such energy resources, and industry continually finds ways to reduce the emissions created by the extraction process. The three provinces, their municipalities and industries are already doing the hard work of being part of an overall goal of reducing emissions, but the world is desperate for Canadian energy.

The Economist recently reported that 150,000 people in Europe will likely die from the cold this winter. We should think about that. There are 150,000 people, most of whom live in countries among the wealthiest in the world, who may not make it through the winter because many will not be able to access affordable energy. As people suffer from chronic cold, their blood thickens and their blood pressure becomes elevated. They are unable to maintain circulation throughout their body and they succumb to heart attack, stroke and illness. This is the consequence of Canada’s inability to export its energy resources, and we are enabling Putin’s weaponization of energy.

I listened to the member’s speech during the first hour of debate at third reading, and I must say I was incredulous at this member’s comments on how he thinks the bill is the embodiment and fulfillment of Canadian federalism.

We had testimony at committee. The minister of justice for Saskatchewan said:  This bill would require federal ministers “to develop a framework for…the implementation of federal programs”, which to us in Saskatchewan sounds pretty top-down, pretty definitive language, and what we call here “assertive federalism”.

She went on to talk about a report that said, “a green transition that is carried out too glibly, too quickly and too politically will impact some 450,000 Canadians, and 450,000 Canadians could lose their jobs.”

The president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities said, “In rural Saskatchewan, we are making excellent headway on our own solutions for a greener economy, and we don’t require a federal framework.”

Only Liberals steeped in the tradition of Pierre Trudeau’s generation and his approach to federalism could possibly think that a bill that imposes a federal process on unwilling provinces is somehow a triumph of the federation.

The bill would impose a process to create a federal framework for the imposition of federal policy on three provinces that do not want it. They did not ask for it. They do not like this government. They disagree with this government. Fifty-six out of the 62 members elected to this chamber from these three provinces are not from the government’s party. That is 90% of the MPs from most provinces who are elected here. They were elected in opposition to this government’s agenda.

Is that a triumph of Canadian federalism, the imposition and creation of this framework? That is exactly the kind of imposition on western provinces that is sadly eroding people’s faith in Canadian federalism, just like under Pierre Trudeau when he was prime minister, when he destroyed the Canadian energy industry for a generation in a spectacular abuse of Canadian federalism. No, the bill is not a triumph of Canadian federalism. It would not be a springboard for some abstract, mythical, undefined, so-called green economy. It would not help Canadian workers.

This government has been promising green job retraining for oil and gas workers for years, and it does not exist. This will not help western municipalities. This is a bill that people in western Canada do not want. It is a bill that nobody asked for. It is a bill that would at best do nothing and at worst harm my constituents.

I am aware, following this debate, that this is likely to pass third reading. If it does, I offer the member for Winnipeg South Centre my personal congratulations. The passage of a private member’s bill is no small thing. To him, I wish the very best, but I do not support the bill and I will oppose it.