Liberals admit that pipeline policy won’t ‘make everyone happy’

Natural resources minister says Canada cannot afford to leave fossil fuel in the ground

An oil and gas pumpjack is silhouetted against a sunset tinged sky near Carstairs, Alta., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

An oil and gas pumpjack is silhouetted against a sunset tinged sky near Carstairs, Alta., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

OTTAWA – Two federal cabinet ministers danced around the issue of approving new oil pipelines at this week’s climate conference in Ottawa, but both concede that Liberal policy decisions will upset some Canadians.

“We’re not going to make everybody happy,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Friday to the Canadian Climate Forum, packed with green technology advocates, environmental economists, NGOs and climate scientists.

As if on cue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later found himself on the receiving end of some energy-policy indignation in Hamilton, Ont., where an anti-pipeline protester showered him with pumpkin seeds, shouting, “Keep your promises!”

The Trudeau government has made climate policy a central motif since taking office last November but is now trying to pivot to resource development amid slumping economic numbers. The Liberals approved controversial permits for a contested hydro electric dam on the Peace River in B.C. this summer and then conditionally approved a massive liquefied natural gas complex last month near Prince Rupert, B.C.

A decision on Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., has been promised by mid-December amid widespread speculation that the Liberals will approve the project.

Carr told the climate forum in Ottawa that some people cannot be convinced that fossil fuel development can continue.

“People say, ‘Leave the oil in the ground,’ they don’t want any development,” said Carr. “Our view is we use the wealth of the old economy to finance the new energy economy.”

MORE: Read our eight-part report card on the Trudeau government, one year in

A day earlier, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna tiptoed her way through a response when the conference moderator asked her directly about “moving hydrocarbons from Alberta elsewhere.”

“People want to know they’re going to have a job,” McKenna replied. “A lot of people are just trying to get by every day, figuring out how they’re going to put food on the table.”

She then described herself “as much an economic minister as I am an environment minister,” before almost pleading with the friendly environmental audience to stay with her.

“I’m going to lose some people on the way,” she acknowledged.

The Liberals have been grappling with the oil pipeline conundrum ever since they took power in part by promising both to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and get natural resources to international markets.

The policy paradox was personified Friday by Green party Leader Elizabeth May, who delivered a lunchtime address to the climate conference that simultaneously praised the Trudeau Liberals and Rachel Notley’s Alberta New Democrats while excoriating the new fossil-fuel infrastructure both governments advocate.

May said climate scientists have determined that to keep the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, mankind can put only 800 more gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Currently operating coal and oil and gas supplies add up to more than 900 gigatonnes of carbon, she said.

“So when my friend Jim Carr stands before you and says there’s some people who say we have to leave it in the ground, some of the people are … the International Energy Agency,” said May.

She implored the federal Liberal government and Alberta’s NDP to “not do the stupid things” — including approving “any new fossil fuel infrastructure that’s connected to an increase in production.”

And May cautioned the environmentally friendly audience that, no matter how much it approves of the new government’s climate policy direction, it can’t afford to stand on the sidelines and applaud.


Liberals admit that pipeline policy won’t ‘make everyone happy’

  1. Canada does not live in isolation. Canadians are buying petroleum products and oil. They don’t have a problem with their own consumption as long as Canada is not a producer. Wake up and smell the coffee. If you are consuming and buying from other countries, you are supporting the production globally. Meanwhile, you are living on borrowed money to pay for social programs, roads and necessities in your own country. This is does not make Canadians environmentally smart or financially clever.

  2. We saw what happened in Ontario when the Green movement was implemented too quickly. Oil and Green need to work side by side. If green becomes prominent, so be it, but it has to do it through the markets, it can’t be over subsidized, or forced.

  3. I am so sick and tired of these anti pipeline hypocrites who denounce the continued development of Canada’s resources while we import a product from countries with terrible human rights and environmental standards. These anti – pipeline professional protestors sure do enjoy the many services that are paid for by having a functioning economy. Will we someday live in a fossil free world? Sure we might but lets get realistic. Leaves grow on trees not money

  4. You had to know big oil lobbyists/ trolls would jump in to defend any policies promoting increased production and transportation of poisonous fossil fuels in Canada – money talks. Canadians sit on our collective butts watching pipeline breaks and leaks destroy our beautiful waterways while rich foreign investors tuck tax free profits in off-shore banks. Wasn’t Justin Trudeau as indignant about this situation during his election campaign as we were? What happened to the hero who was going to protect us from these leeches? Why did we all vote for a Canadian Donald Trump – who says whatever he thinks people want to hear simply to get elected?

  5. Fossil fuels like any other ‘resource’ in Canada are as valuable as the price they will bring when sold. Canada’s easy , and cheap sources of fossil fuels – coal in the Maritimes and the Rockies, oil and gas on the prairies have been exploited because it was economic to do that. Not because Canadians needed them, but because they could be sold to other places that did. When it comes to the latest ‘resource exploitation’ nobody could have foreseen that our best customer would discover untapped reserves that make it – for the foreseeable future – energy independent and willing to take our muck only as a favour, and at a significant mark-down.

    Building pipelines to get it to the coasts in hopes that somebody energy needy will take it off our hands in just the latest result of a ‘war strategy’ applied to resources. We’ve invested far too much to get the crap out of the ground (as in our recent wars) to just walk away from it now.

    So we’ll build the pipelines for the energy corporations and they’ll sell it for the best price they can get, the taxpayers will absorb the costs, as always.

    No this policy won’t make many people happy at all. we’re being asked to double down on what looks already like a losing proposition.

  6. Yay…. the Liberals after selling their B.S. to Canadian voters are now going to backtrack over their tongues. A classic Chretien move. It’s the human condition of inexperience or perhaps unencumbered exuberance. I like to look at the world as if we are living Bill Murray’s “groundhog day”. Consistently over the 5 decades I have watched as we continue to cycle these policies and politicians that recycle the old soap box to get elected, but then realize once in power, they have to help the electorate fill their pocketbooks to be relected. Trudeau is that “Obama moment” that all Canadians witnessed over the past 8 years. The unfortnaute realization for the USA as i suspect will happen here in Canada is that Obama and Trudeau share the same lack of resume and experiences. I realize they were elected on the banner of “hope and change”. But to gain the confidence of our countries and then fiddle around the edges is deflating as it should be. Obama wasted 8 years of what could have been a transitional administration, thinking he had won the presidency and could now rest. All of his policies accomplished nothing including showing just how corrupted government had become, launching Trump. Trudeau has spent the first year asking questions largely because of his and his cabinets inability to understand the realities of everyday life with respect to government policy action of inaction. As one journalist wrote, “how long can you run a government in permanent consultations?” Carr is now trying to carry water for a Liberal government that has been handed the keys to a descending world economy. They have been told by smart people that their policies promoted in election, are contradicting reality. The fun f all this is having a front row seat as they disappoint their fervent supporters that Utopia and unicorns are not real when it comes to 36 million Canadian lives. This next 36 month are going to be “Canada’s groundhog day”. Enjoy!