Canada is blessed with abundant and valuable energy and natural resources. Our energy and natural resource workers have long been technology leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. They have created jobs and wealth – wealth that we rely on to fund our social programs.
Unfortunately, Liberals don’t support Canada’s energy and natural resource industries. Historically, they tried to impoverish Alberta with the National Energy Program and are trying again today with the Carbon Tax. They abandoned the Northern Gateway Pipeline – a project thoroughly reviewed and approved under the Conservative government. And they have all but ignored northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire. While they have since allowed the National Energy Board to complete the reviews of two other pipelines started under the last government, the Trudeau Liberals are not willing to spend the political capital necessary to ensure those pipelines and mining infrastructure are built.
It’s time for a Prime Minister who respects Canada’s energy and natural resource workers and the benefit all Canadians receive from exploring, harnessing, upgrading and delivering our resources to global markets.
An O’Toole government will take several key actions to support this key sector of our economy.
National Strategic Pipelines Act:
Pipelines are today what the railways were to Sir John A. Macdonald and the TransCanada Highway was to John Diefenbaker. They are the strategic infrastructure that tie our country together, power our economy and ensure resources can get to market safely and efficiently. Building this essential infrastructure will require federal leadership and a Prime Minister that understands and values the contributions of the men and women working in this sector. Prime Minister Trudeau started his tenure in office by mocking our resource sector in his first trip abroad. He also changes his message depending upon which province he is in. That is divisive and shows a lack of understanding of our economy.
An O’Toole government will pass a National Strategic Pipelines Act, declaring major pipeline projects – including Energy East – as strategic to Canada’s economic interests. All serious observers know Canadian pipelines are built to the highest international standards and that risks can and will be properly mitigated. The legislation will define a fast-tracked environmental and consultation review process that will ensure they are built to the highest environmental standards and with consultation with First Nations and local governments. Critically different, however, will be the absence of the need to demonstrate the need for the pipeline itself.
This is not intended for all pipeline projects. A pipeline will be determined to be Nationally Strategic if it meets two criteria:
- it provides foreign market access directly or by tidewater; or,
- it delivers the resource to a refining or upgrading facility in Canada.
Any project that does not meet these two criteria will be reviewed in the normal manner by the National Energy Board.
The federal government will have a direct role in ensuring that these nationally strategic pipeline projects are allowed to move forward, including working directly with communities along the pipeline routes particularly with respect to watershed management. Any pipeline that traverses a major river or aquifer will be subject to enhanced annual inspection requirements and a 3-year review process to ensure that all safety equipment, mitigation measures and response procedures remain world class. The federal government will be responsible for all reviews and 50% of the cost of upgrades on this vigorous review cycle. Since the pipeline will be in the national interest, the federal government will ensure world class review and safety measures are not left entirely to the private sector when it comes to risks associated with water. An O’Toole government will also require pipeline owners to pay proper compensation for any damages caused by a leak or spill, further protecting those who live or own property along pipeline routes.
Declaring a pipeline to be Nationally Strategic will in no way eliminate the duty to consult First Nations as provided by the Supreme Court of Canada. Indigenous communities will be consulted from start to finish in the project and prosperity gained from the pipeline will contribute directly to the growth and well-being of our Indigenous peoples. The duty to consult does not mean a power of veto for First Nations. To suggest otherwise does not advance the reconciliation process, nor does it help the well-being of young men and women from on and off-reserve communities looking for employment opportunities.
Those who live along the route of pipelines must benefit from their construction, through jobs, training, economic opportunities for local business and, in some cases, an ownership or royalty interest. An O’Toole government will ensure that the approval process includes the development of plans to ensure that communities along the pipeline, particularly Indigenous communities, share in prosperity. To this end, an O’Toole government will work with Indigenous business leaders to develop and implement a National Indigenous Procurement Policy that applies to resource sector as well as to the offsets from defence procurement.
Reigniting the Ring of Fire:
The Ring of Fire refers to a sweeping area of major mineral potential in northern Ontario, centered by McFauld’s Lake. It has been heralded as not only a world-class deposit of chromite (a key ingredient in stainless steel) but the only known deposit in the entire western hemisphere. Currently, all of North America’s stainless steel manufacturing is supplied by Asian and African sources. Canada has the opportunity to become a global leader in chromite mining and potentially revitalize manufacturing with proudly Canadian minerals.
After more than a decade of mineral exploration activity no infrastructure has been developed, despite the region being rich in resources, including: chromite, vanadium, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, platinum and gold. According to a recent study by the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, the current projected value of the Ring of Fire is over $60 Billion with known deposits significant enough to sustain a century of mineral development.
While the Government of Ontario recognized this potential enough to request $1 Billion in infrastructure funding from the Government of Canada in 2014, in the three years since, they have never provided the necessary plan for the funding. The Liberal government in Ontario has since allowed the Ring of Fire to all but go up in smoke with the major international mining company leading the development plans walking away from a $500M sunk investment in the province.
An O’Toole government will make the opportunities of the Ring of Fire a national priority by declaring chromite a nationally significant resource and the development of the Ring of Fire as a project of national significance. This will allow the Government of Canada to take the lead on the Ring of Fire.
This is in keeping with how the Athabasca oil sands were developed. Preston Manning’s father, then Premier of Alberta, Ernest Manning, was an unabashed oil sands booster in the 1940s. It took extensive government and industry cooperation, and a true vision for the economic future of the Athabasca region for development to take off. Similarly, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney advanced development in the Hibernia oil field using the Canada Development Investment Corporation. This was one of a series of regional mega-projects Mulroney advanced across Canada. That same dedication, cooperation and vision is needed now in the Ring of Fire.
We will work to streamline the Environmental Assessment processes for the transportation corridor. By increasing access to the region, mineral exploration companies can focus their scarce resources on what matters most: putting shovels in the ground and creating more jobs for Canadians.
A transportation corridor is urgently needed to allow for more cost-effective exploration in the Ring of Fire, which will welcome more investment into the many northern Ontario communities which sought to host the smelter as well as other associated infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Ontario government’s inability to negotiate terms for infrastructure and energy pricing meant that companies and Indigenous communities could not finalize their consultation efforts.
Once a transportation corridor is established, and confirmed deposits continue to become economically viable, there is potential for the future expansion of the corridor to include passenger travel for the remote Indigenous communities in the region. Connecting these communities will improve access to health care, education, and reduce transportation costs for basic needs like groceries and diesel fuel. Currently, these important commodities often must be flown into remote communities at tremendous costs as the reliability of winter ice roads also continue to pose a problem.
Connecting any hydro corridors providing electricity to the mines to the Indigenous communities will also be a priority. Currently, most of the electricity in the region is provided through costly diesel generators with fuel often flown in at great expense. By eventually connecting the remote communities to the power grid, industry, Indigenous communities and the environment will benefit.
An O’Toole government will invest in the future promise of the Ring of Fire. By facilitating a transportation corridor, the opportunity of a century will not be squandered.
Through this entire process, we will ensure that all Indigenous communities in the region are able to shape and ultimately benefit from the development.
An Offshore Accord for the North:
Justin Trudeau has turned his back on Northern Canada. He has no northerners in his cabinet and has closed the door on allowing Northerners to benefit from developing their vast resources and providing opportunities for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents. In fact, the Trudeau government did not even consult with territorial and Indigenous leaders on his halting of resource development. Despite his globe-trotting travel schedule, PM Trudeau also sadly skipped participating in the Canadian Armed Forces Operation Nanook northern exercise, thereby breaking a long-standing tradition of political support for our northern sovereignty established by PM Harper. Hardly sunny ways for the people of our north who already persevere with less sunshine.
From John Diefenbaker to Brian Mulroney to Stephen Harper, it has only been Conservative governments that have built and protected our north and supported its people. An O’Toole government will continue in this positive direction by:
- Scrapping the northern drilling ban unless northerners themselves choose to keep it. This issue should not be decreed by politicians in the south.
- Offer the territories control over their resources similar to what the Atlantic Accords gave to Atlantic Canada and be the primary beneficiaries of the development of their resources.
A Partner for Quebec on Completing Plan Nord:
Plan Nord is an ambitious program launched by the Government of Quebec in 2011. It provides for the sustainable development of northern Quebec’s rich natural resources.
These resources represent a major opportunity for economic and social development that will bring major benefits for the local population as well as for people all over Quebec and, indeed, Canada as a whole.
The Government of Quebec has pledged to base all development on four principles:
- A planned, coordinated project based on partnership, private-sector investment and support for communities, in particular through the creation of the Société du Plan Nord.
- A focus on sustainable development that integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions.
- Government actions adapted to the realities of local and aboriginal communities and to northern areas in general.
- A harmonious and ethical approach to development that remains respectful of aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities and consistent with equality between men and women.
All Canadians have a stake in ensuring the success of this ambitious plan. An O’Toole government will be an active partner, supporting the Government of Quebec in developing key infrastructure needed to unlock the promise of Plan Nord, by:
- Streamlining the environmental assessment process for key infrastructure, avoiding federal red tape that to often duplicates provincial reviews – something that is especially unnecessary in a jurisdiction like Quebec with world-leading environmental standards, and
- Looking for ways that federal infrastructure funding can be used to help build key infrastructure. An O’Toole government will better focus federal infrastructure funding on projects that truly contribute to increasing the productivity of our economy – like Plan Nord.”