When did it become an imperative to refine our oil in other countries instead of here?

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, this debate takes place in a kind of history-free zone. Hearing from the Conservatives, one would swear that getting bitumen to tidewater had been the campaign of generations. One member may have forgotten the timing. Kinder Morgan was not proposed until 2013.

I want to ask my hon. colleague from Durham about when he campaigned in 2011 as a Conservative, on the promise of Stephen Harper that there would be no pipeline to the B.C. coast, because the Conservatives opposed sending bitumen to any country where the refineries operate at environmental standards that are lower than Canada’s.* We have a lot of revisionist history going on. That was the promise of the Conservatives in 2011. When did it become a massive imperative that we send a product of low value, which is very expensive to produce, to refineries in other countries instead of refining it here?

Erin O’Toole – Durham

Madam Speaker, the only revisionist history is coming from my friend from the Green Party, who is usually much more up to date on things. I was not elected in 2011. I know she knows that. I was elected in a by-election in 2012. Nevertheless, I quoted Keystone XL, which I am sure the member opposed because it is in some way tangentially connected with the resource economy.

We have supported all lines that will allow for Canadian resources. This is just as much a resource of someone in Saanich—Gulf Islands as it is of someone who lives where it is extracted. It is the largest single contributor to our public health system.* All I am asking is for the government to stand up for it a bit. I quoted in my speech the debates from 1956. I would refer the member to those comments. This is an important debate in the national interest. The Conservatives have brought it here,and we will continue to fight for these jobs.

*FACT-CHECK: All mining, quarrying and oil/gas extraction account for 8.1% of Canada’s economy, making it the #3 sector. Alberta and British Columbia receive the same per capita allocation of federal support, in spite of B.C.’s nearly half a million more residents. The payments for 2015-2016 do not factor in the $250.14 million the federal government gave to Alberta that fiscal year as a result of “extraordinary economic downturn.” No doubt this had to do with the collapse in oil prices after 2014, a downturn that cost tens of thousands of jobs. The idea of a sustainable energy sector is not just about reducing GHG emissions but to become independent of the inescapable boom/bust cycle of oil. The $3.3 billion this government spends on fossil fuel subsidies (read: corporate welfare) would be better spent on education and training for oil sands workers in steady, sustainable sectors.