Q: What is your position concerning pipelines?
JN: A pipeline to tidewater is an absolute economic necessity for Alberta and for Canada.
The social services network in Alberta is funded by oil and gas operations through means such as the property taxes and community investment dollars created by the linear footprint of energy infrastructure To maintain excellence in this area, we need to re-establish a strong industry that is positioned to move its product to international markets. Currently we are facing weak industry and massive debt.
Alberta has the third largest reserves of oil in the world, but produces only four per cent of supply. Without pipelines to tidewater, our resource has been devalued by $15 to $27 a barrel. Thousands of potential jobs in Alberta have been lost. Many highly trained Albertans have also faced unemployment since 2015. Recent graduates educated of our post-secondary schools have been forced to move out of province to find work in their chosen fields exporting their skill sets and preventing taxpayers from getting returns on their educational investment.
Having been responsible for the cancellation of two major pipeline projects, which would have connected our resource to tidewater, the federal government was forced to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline using taxpayer’s money. When the expansion is eventually completed, Alberta will finally receive better value for the oil resulting in more employment for Canadians and more royalties for programs like health care and education that Albertans value so highly.
Pipelines are actually a national issue. Between 2004 and 2014, Albertans paid $221.4 billion more in federal taxes than they received in programs and transfers. That is money that went to other Canadians — $22 billion a year. It will only remain available with a strong oil and gas sector operating in Alberta and serving a world market.
Alberta should continue to research, expand and invest in alternate energy, but until the day arrives when there is no more need for petroleum products, we must remind Canada of this: pipelines transporting Alberta petroleum products not only contribute to the economic well being of Canadians, they safely and reliably transport the most environmentally-friendly, ethically produced petroleum in the world. It is critical that Canada remain competitive for the long-term future, access to tide waters will attract investments back to Canada and ensure a responsible and prosperous energy future for our country and our province.