Genuis: Helping Alberta's economy

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan MP Garnett Genuis Photo Supplied

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Albertans are clearly frustrated by this federal government. The crisis facing our energy sector has a lot to do with specific decisions that they have made. We now see the government talking about helping Alberta, but their approach focuses only on government spending going to those affected by the downturn instead of on actually repairing the mistakes that they have made. Government policies which allow private sector development are actually what we need in order to jump start Alberta’s economy.

Since becoming elected, we have debated two bills which put a big chill on the growth of our energy sector. I opposed both of them. They are C-48 and C-69.

Bill C-48 creates a tanker exclusion zone. It prohibits the export of Canadian energy from the BC coast anywhere north of the tip of Vancouver Island. This bill puts into legislation a ban which the government has already imposed. This effectively prevents us from accessing the potential opportunities associated with exporting Alberta oil to Asian markets through a deep-water port in that area. This is a big missed opportunity and it plays a major role keeping us locked in the North American market. We are likely to be getting lower prices as long as this policy remains in place.

Bill C-69 is a “no more pipelines” bill. The additional conditions and limitations it imposes will make it virtually impossible for any new pipeline project to succeed. Pipeline companies are unlikely to even try applying under the terms C-69 establishes. This bill follows additional requirements imposed on the Energy East pipeline which effectively killed it.

The federal government recently announced a financial aid package to Alberta and spent $4.5 billion buying an existing pipeline (which they still officially want to expand, but have no plan or timeline to do so). These two items together amount to a lot of money being spent, but neither expenditure actually addresses the problem. Rather than buying a pipeline, we wanted the government to establish policies to allow the private sector to build pipelines. Rather than an aid package, we want policies that allow people to get back to work.

Albertans would rather not rely on government support if they can avoid it. We have no ill will against those who need government help, but we prefer the opportunity to work and earn ourselves – an opportunity that comes from a strong economy.

Scrapping bills C-48 and C-69 will not fix everything right away. But, if the government really wants to help Alberta, that would be a very good place to start.

Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at garnett.genuis@parl.gc.ca. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.

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