The Honourable Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade’s 2017 Energy Forum



Thank you, David, and good morning everyone.

I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

In many ways, British Columbia and Vancouver have led the way on environmental stewardship.  Creating this magnificent, liveable city.  Articulating, before most people, what the low-carbon future could look like.  Recognizing the important role Indigenous peoples must play.  And the significance of protecting our oceans.

This is an ideal place to continue the conversation about the environment and economic prosperity.

Since becoming Minister of Natural Resources, a little over two years ago, I’ve had the honour of travelling the world, discussing energy issues from Mumbai to Paris, Rome to Beijing, Houston to Mexico City.

What’s clear is that we are in a global transition — from the energy that has powered our societies for generations — to clean, renewable sources. The pace of that transition may vary from country to country, but it is underway and it is irreversible.

The world is looking to Canada as a reliable and stable supplier of the traditional energy it still needs and as an innovator in newer energy sources it wants to use.

Canadians are tuned in.  How do I know?  We asked them — through Generation Energy — the largest engagement on energy issues in our nation’s history.

We invited Canadians to imagine their energy future.  How do they expect the world to look when their kids and grandkids are grown?  What should we be doing now to get us there?

More than 380,000 people joined that conversation online and 650 gathered to advance the discussions at a forum in my home city of Winnipeg,

It was a remarkable event, bringing together, often for the first time, energy producers and suppliers, international experts, Indigenous leaders, academics, environmental organizations, consumers and all levels of government.

While the discussions had uncomfortable moments, they were also remarkably engaging — even visionary.

Canadians told us they want a thriving, low-carbon economy.  They want us to be a leader in clean technology.  And they want an energy system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians without harming the environment.

They also understand we’re not there yet.  We need to prepare for the future, but we must deal with the present — by providing energy they can count on when they flick on a light or fill up their cars.

That means continuing to support our oil and gas resources even as we develop alternatives — including solar, wind and tidal.

As Prime Minister Trudeau said right here in Vancouver, “The choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal.”

A year ago yesterday, our government made an important announcement consistent with that approach: the approval of two pipelines — the Trans Mountain Expansion and Line 3 Replacement — and the rejection of a third, Northern Gateway.

These new pipelines will diversify our markets, be built with improved environmental safety and create thousands of good middle-class jobs, including in Indigenous communities.

They were the right decisions then and they are the right ones now.  Our government wants to see them built.  And we want to see them built as part of a sensible energy policy.

The key word there is “part.” We don’t share the view of those who would simply pump as much oil as we can, as fast as we can.  Nor do we share the view that we should leave all the oil in the ground or never build another pipeline.

What country would find billions of barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there?

Those who would leave our oil in the ground and those who want to pump it all out, miss the bigger picture.

Extracting oil without environmental protection is like patching the roof of your house with material from the foundation.  It might feel good at the time, but it undermines the future.

Similarly, those who want to close the oil sands down tomorrow overlook both the disruption it would cause to Canadian families and the loss of revenue it provides for clean energy and innovation.

That innovation is found in a wide variety of things we use every day that are a byproduct of petroleum production: toothbrushes, Band-Aids, fishing lures, kayaks, and even pacemakers. We should be proud of the innovation that fuels the petrochemical industry in Canada. It is essential to the transition.

Our government has a clear goal: we want Canada to be a leader in the clean-growth century.

How do we get there?  By using this time of transition to Canada’s advantage — building the infrastructure to get our resources to global markets and using the revenues to invest in clean forms of energy.

In other words, leveraging the fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean-energy solutions for tomorrow.

Line 3 and TMX are important parts of that plan.

But so, too, are advancing the policies and making the decisions that will get us closer to the future we want.  And that’s exactly what our government is doing.

By ratifying the Paris Accord.  Putting a price on carbon.  Investing in clean technology and infrastructure.  Accelerating the phase out of coal.  Creating a low-carbon fuel standard.  Regulating methane emissions.  And, together with our provincial and territorial colleagues, developing a national plan for combating climate change.

We knew that approving Line 3 and TMX, was not going to please everyone. I think you’ll agree we got that right.

Many Canadians, including in the Lower Mainland, oppose the TMX pipeline.  We recognize that the essence of a healthy democracy is the expression of differing views on important decisions.

We respect those views — including those of Indigenous peoples who feel a   sacred connection to the air, land and water.

Our government understands — and shares — British Columbians’ sense of responsibility for this spectacular coast.

Which is why we took the time to get this decision right.  Based on the best science.  And the widest possible consultation.

The National Energy Board conducted a thorough review of TMX and recommended that we approve the project, subject to 157 binding conditions.

To enable even more voices to be heard, I appointed a special Ministerial Panel, composed of three distinguished Canadians: Kim Baird, Tony Penikett and Dr. Annette Trimbee, to hold additional hearings.

The Panel held 44 public meetings, hearing more than 600 presentations and receiving some 20,000 submissions by email.

We then made the single largest investment ever to protect Canada's oceans and coastlines.

The $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan:

  • strengthens the “eyes and ears” of the Coast Guard to ensure better communication with vessels
  • makes navigation safer
  • puts more enforcement officers on the coast
  •  adds new radar sites in strategic locations
  • creates more Primary Environmental Response Teams to bolster Coast Guard capacity
  • enforces the principal of “the polluter pays”
  • conducts scientific research and invests in new technologies to make cleanups more effective

This generational investment in ocean safety addresses concerns about spill prevention and response and provides significant additional protections for Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea.

To provide greater protection for the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, the Ocean Protection Plan also:

  • launched a science-based review of current management and recovery actions
  • committed to install a real-time whale detection system to make mariners aware of the whales’ location
  • enabled new work to create rigorous standards for noise reduction in vessels, and
  • provided funding for a whale sighting and notification system

Just as important, TMX has to operate within the cap on emissions set by Alberta’s climate plan.  In fact, TMX, Line 3 and the Keystone XL Pipeline together are required to stay within the 100 megatonne limit set by Alberta.

Pipelines are a safe, efficient and reliable way to move our resources to market.  The Pipeline Safety Act, which came into force last summer, strengthens this by enshrining the principle of “the polluter pays.”  It makes companies liable regardless of fault — $1 billion in the case of major pipelines — and requires them to have the financial resources to respond to potential incidents.

On TMX, we have done something no other Canadian government has ever done — co-developed an Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee to help oversee the safety of a major energy project through its entire life cycle.  

Participation in the Committee does not mean a community supports or opposes the project. What it does mean is that we are working together to advance our shared goals of safety and protection of the environment.

As a result, Indigenous voices will be heard, their counsel sought and their knowledge valued.  In ways they never have been before.

As Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation has said, “Indigenous people won’t be on the outside looking in. We’ll be at the table and on site to protect our land and water.”

The economic arguments for TMX are compelling.  Getting Canadian oil to international markets strengthens the Canadian economy.  True a year ago.  True today.

Why?  Because when ninety-nine percent of your oil goes to one customer, you don’t effectively set the price — they do.  And you’re completely reliant on them continuing to buy your product.  As business people, you know that’s not the smartest strategy.

Receiving less than market rates for our oil deprives Canada of billions of dollars in revenue — money that could be invested in clean energy, roads, schools and hospitals — or, as I like to add, symphony orchestras.

The shale revolution in the U.S. may have largely flown under the public’s radar, but it has fundamentally changed the North American supply-demand equation.  The result? New markets aren’t just important — they’re imperative.

Muddling along, hoping the Americans will keep buying our oil is not a strategy, it’s a failure of leadership — and a wilful blindness to market realities.

Those who believe that stopping TMX is a “win” overlook what would be lost: Jobs.  Income.  Investment in the energy transition.  And opportunity.

Once TMX is up and running it will give our energy a route to world markets.  Providing Canadians with something they haven’t had before: options.  For the first time, we will be able to export our energy where we can obtain the best price.  Market decisions — not a monopoly buyer — will determine our strategy.

Here in B.C., you are leading in that regard when it comes to LNG. Just last week, we saw the first shipment of LNG to China from right here in Vancouver. You understand the potential of LNG as a transition fuel in a world where countries are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

As the world continues to make the transition to a low-carbon future, we need a sensible, sustainable approach.  One that understands that while the path to a low-carbon future may be long, the trajectory is clear.

Our responsibility is to use this time wisely — by improving the environmental performance of traditional energy sources while developing new ones.  By investing in both pipelines and clean technologies.

As we work through this transition, Canadians want us to set aside the politics of division.

That came through loud and clear in our Generation Energy discussions.  They’re tired of those who try to pit province against province, region against region.  They want to see us come together and act for the good of the country.

Let’s not lose sight of that — or of the importance of the energy industry to the communities that depend on it, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.  Communities in every part of our country.

Let’s not lose sight of how these projects can bring us closer to our long-term goals for the climate and our economy.

Simply opposing pipelines — any pipeline — puts all of that at risk.  By not getting our energy to new customers.  By not using the resources we have to build the future we want.  By not creating the jobs Canadians deserve.

Let’s not make the stop sign the symbol of our time.  We need a green light on sensible energy policy.

To win the future, we need only look to our past.  To a country that worked together to get great things built: a railway that spanned a continent and brought this province into Confederation.  A broadcasting system that connected a country.  And an arm that reached into space.

It’s time for that kind of nation-building again.  It’s time for a larger, more generous vision that sees projects such as these as vital steps to a better future.

When we come together, and act as one, there is little we cannot do.

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