Why the mania for exporting a product we could refine and sell here?

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I want to address this question to my hon. colleague from Abbotsford, which is fundamental, about the mania for shipping out unprocessed raw bitumen as opposed to cutting off imports of more high-value crude to eastern Canadian ports.

I would put it to the member that I have been advocating for some time that we build upgraders and refineries in Alberta so that we are not shipping bitumen mixed with diluent. Bitumen is not dangerous to transport, unless and until it is mixed with diluent, which creates dilbit that cannot be cleaned up. We could create more jobs in Alberta more quickly and use the product in Canada by stopping the importation of about a million barrels a day from Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and so on.

Why not refine the product in Alberta and distribute finished product across Canada for Canadians? Why the mania for export?

Ed Fast – Member for Abbotsford

Mr. Speaker, it is not an all-or-nothing situation. We want to ensure we have pipeline capacity within Canada so we can ship our oil across the country to refineries on the east coast. We have so much oil that is valuable, that the world wants, and that we extract in a environmentally sustainable way, why would we not also seek export markets?

Part of the problem with compelling industry to refine oil in Canada is that the refineries have to have a market for it and we would still have to transport that finished product somewhere. It is going to have to travel to either the west coast or, as the member suggests, the east coast. How is that going to take place, by truck, by railcar? It is pretty dangerous.

Also, if we want to ship our crude abroad, the problem is that countries like China will not buy it because China wants to refine it there itself. I know that. I am a former trade minister, and I know how this works. The Chinese do not want to buy our refined oil; they want to buy our crude oil, because they then get the chance to refine it there.