Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:
- Develop a national vision, strategy and implementation plan for advancing responsible resource development in cooperation with provincial governments, Indigenous Nations and the private sector that advances national infrastructure planning and execution (especially interprovincial pipelines to access tidewater on Canada’s east and west coasts);
- Repeal and replace Bills C-69 and Bill C-48 with more balanced legislation in the national interest to advance responsible resource development for all Canadians, while balancing legitimate societal interests and environmental protection;
- Clearly define the meaning and intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed to the Duty to Consult and Accommodate which has evolved in case law since the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1982. Failure to do so will result in many years of litigation and uncertainty;
- Focus on incremental pan-Canadian LNG development to unleash the full potential of Western and Eastern Canadian gas reserves and export opportunities; and,
- Develop a realistic climate action plan which truly respects concurrent federal and provincial jurisdiction over the environment; markets Canadian LNG as a transition fuel for China and India (the world’s leading carbon emitters) and Europe; and upholds the principle of full revenue-neutrality (i.e. one-for-one offsetting personal and corporate tax reductions) if a price on carbon is maintained.
Merit Canada is firmly of the view that the wealth, jobs and opportunities created by Canadian resource industries is too often maligned and not sufficiently appreciated or supported.
Ground zero for the now endemic challenges within Canada’s resource industries is the approach taken by federal policy makers toward the energy sector where there has been little focus given to getting Canadian resources to market.
In the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s, governments of both political stripes who governed — Liberal and Conservative — did make concerted efforts to unleash Canada’s resources to generate enormous opportunity for our country.
The result is that the energy industry is the single largest private sector investor in Canada, investing about $44 billion in 2017 alone. The energy sector also pays an estimated $15 billion annually to government, which all Canadians share.
Over the past few years, however, this commitment has been undermined by detrimental public policy measures which has complicated major project development and has land-locked our natural resources.
The passage of Bill C-69, Impact Assessment Act this past spring will impair Canada’s ability to develop its resources by making major project permitting and approvals more costly and complex at best and, at worst, impossible. Bill C-48 – the ban on oil tankers off the west coast of Canada – stymies the development of further pipeline infrastructure on our country’s Northwest Coast which is critically necessary to get our nation’s oil reserves responsibly to global markets.
Instead of taking action in the national interest to responsibly develop our resources, these legislative measures institutionalize obstruction, complacency, and the status quo. By doing so, all Canadians lose.
Merit Canada believes Government has a purposeful role to set the national direction for responsible resource development, to facilitate timely regulatory approvals and permitting, and to lay the foundation for the execution of nation-building infrastructure within federal jurisdiction.
In recent years, however, efforts to catalyze (i.e. articulate a vision), coordinate (i.e. work with the provinces, Indigenous Nations and private sector proponents), and communicate (i.e. make the case to Canadians about the financial, social and moral imperative of advancing responsible resource and infrastructure development) has effectively been non-existent.
Merit Canada fears that Canada risks being labeled a place where it is simply too difficult to get things done or, worse, a place where regulatory approvals are not worth the paper they are printed on. The early results are in: businesses and investors are taking their ideas, their people, and their capital elsewhere.
Protecting Canada’s environment is an important public policy objective, and Merit Canada believes the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand. However, federal policy makers’ vision has been misplaced or has overstated Canada’s place and influence on the core global challenges of our time.
For example, while most Canadians agree that climate change is a real threat, our national response fails to recognize that Canada produces less than two percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada’s useful contribution to climate action should be to help China, India and Europe transition away from coal to less carbon-intensive sources of energy such as Canadian LNG (liquified natural gas).