Posted on Oct 29, 2018

Emergency Debate: Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

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Thank you, Madam Speaker. I always like to thank the Member for Vermilion-Lloydminster for his always very interesting speech. I'm glad that he rose this afternoon.

Here we are. It's another Monday and another debate on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Sometimes I really just wish that the opposition was willing to believe facts and the evidence of what the Premier, cabinet, and public servants have been doing with their colleagues in the federal government and the oil and gas industry to make the Trans Mountain pipeline continue to be built. I tend to believe facts.

This pipeline is important not only to residents and businesses in the constituency of Sherwood Park. This pipeline starts about three kilometres from my own office and will be joining some of the other pipelines just a few feet from my office in one of the pipeline corridors. But this pipeline is important to all Albertans and to all Canadians. I am daily reminded of the need for a new pipeline and the challenges of some of the alternatives currently being used to move the raw bitumen such as rail and tracks cars. I am also reminded how little was done by the federal Conservative government, in which the Leader of the Opposition was a member, and how little was done by the former provincial governments, of which many of the opposition MLAs were members of or involved with. For years former Alberta governments allowed raw bitumen to flow down to the U.S., and instead of job creations in Alberta, good refinery and upgrading jobs went south to Texas, Louisiana, and other states. This not only meant good, long-lasting jobs have gone south but also the differential in price between the raw and upgraded bitumenĀ has seen the U.S. oil and gas sector making money rather than us in Alberta.

The Premier was clear on her disappointment with the federal court ruling. I think we also have a picture of her with Prime Minister Trudeau, and I think even with the body language she was very clear how upset she was. The Premier believed that Ottawa should have appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, and she was disappointed that the Prime Minister decided not to.

Now, the Trans Mountain pipeline is supported by Canadians from every part of the country. Like many MLAs, over the summer I had the opportunity of meeting MLAs at our professional development conferences and all Canadians on our summer holidays. We know that the need for a pipeline is well known and that the work that Trans Mountain and the Alberta government has done to safeguard the pipeline and to respond to environmental concerns is also well understood by Canadians in all the provinces. Not everyone is as privileged as I am to meet with pipeline companies operating in the Industrial Heartland area and learn about their environment and safety standards, to see their control rooms, learn about the constant monitoring, shutdown procedures, backup systems, alternate electrical sources, and so on. So as an MLA I believe that we all have a role to play in sharing information about the reliability of pipelines and the work the energy industry is doing to make them safer.

I often wonder how the members of the Conservative government now represented in this Assembly were not able to get the approval for the pipeline. How do they think constantly demeaning the Prime Minister in memes, ads, and their remarks is going to encourage the federal government to work with them to meet the needs of Alberta? If they continue to deny the importance of reducing carbon emissions and belief in climate change, how can they convince Canadians that they have the best interests of Albertans and Canadians at heart?

Now, I know that there are a couple of new, younger MLAs in the opposition benches now. My hope is that they do understand the importance of climate change. Maybe if they went through our school system, they might have benefited from learning about it. It might be a surprise to the members opposite who struggled with accepting climate change that most Canadians do believe that climate change is real and that efforts by government to reduce carbon emissions and the efforts by the oil and gas sector to do the same is what Canadians want. On the government side we applaud the work done by pipeline companies to mitigate climate change by constantly innovating and working to find new ways to reduce their climate emissions.

Earlier the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and the Minister of Environment and Parks referred to the work that the government is doing on diversification. This approach in creating jobs in the Industrial Heartland currently but all throughout Alberta is important because it means that the export of the products through existing pipelines will lead to greaterĀ  revenues for the companies and the government. There is not one simple solution to employment in the oil and gas sector or to the renewed fortunes of Fort McMurray or the area that I represent or increased revenues for the government. But the multidisciplinary approach that the government is using that includes increasing the capacity of pipelines through innovations that include a way to remove the need for diluent, the building of new pipeline, and investing in companies that are upgrading here in our province is the way that we will be able to return to greater employment in the oil and gas sector in Alberta. Maybe it's time for the opposition to support this multipronged approach, rather than voting again and again against the efforts to diversify our petrochemical industry and against investment in the climate change leadership plan.

Madam Speaker, I always appreciate the opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the government to getting the most out of our natural resources to provide the services Albertans need. I also always appreciate the opportunity to support the constant work done by the Premier and the ministers, working with the federal government and other provinces. Thank you.

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