Editor’s Note: The Daily Courier is asking candidates within their readership areas a series of 12 questions. Each candidate was given the question in writing with a word maximum of 120.
QUESTION #11: Do you agree with the Liberal government’s decision to purchase the TransMountain pipeline?
DAN ALBAS (Conservative): In essence, the Trudeau Liberal government paid Texas-based Kinder Morgan $4.5 billion to not build a pipeline they were planning on building with their own money and will instead spend potentially another 7.5 billion of tax dollars to build the expanded Trans-Mountain pipeline project. Unfortunately, it will now be taxpayers that will have to absorb any future overruns. The last-minute purchase underscores how badly the Trudeau Liberals have managed our investment climate and regulatory certainty as no private sector company feels that they can proceed with any expectation of profit. It is hard to argue that decision makes fiscal sense for taxpayers and it is not a decision that I supported.
ALLAN DUNCAN (People’s Party of Canada): The purchase of TransMountain pipeline has not been effective in progressing the expansion project. If the pipeline can be expanded and sold at a profit, or sold at profit then expanded, the taxpayer may benefit. Until then, Canadians have an aging pipeline and a $4.5 billion bill added to our national debt. There should be more effort into pursuing expansion. Diligence is due toward making sure a $4.5 billion asset doesn’t turn into a liability. Canadians overdependence on the American market for exports costs our economy billions of dollars in foregone revenues every year. Pipelines provide access for market expansion, they should be built and expanded for the prosperity of Canadians.
ROBERT MELLALIEU (Green): Absolutely not! Oil and gas are dying industries — it's the equivalent to investing in Blockbuster Video. There are no contracts for the tar sand oil. No business person in their right mind would lay out $14 billion without being absolutely sure they could eventually make a profit. Canada gets $14 billion in taxes from oil and gas, but Canada gives $3.3 billion in subsidies to oil and gas. One pipeline providing expensive, dirty oil to a world that is awash with cheap sweet crude is never going to be a good return on investment. There will never be enough tax revenue to do anything significant to reduce our CO2 emissions. Oil and gas provide only 0.3% of jobs in Canada. The TMX claims they will provide construction jobs — however, many of those jobs are in China. Oh and, of course, it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
MARY ANN MURPHY (Liberal): Yes. In the 21st century, you need a plan for the environment, and a plan for the economy. TMX solves a core economic challenge facing Canada: 99% of our conventional energy resources are sold to one market — the United States — at a large discount. We need to expand our world market in order to get a fair price for the products we sell. We will use the extra earnings to fund a clean energy transition, including re-training/support for workers, developing Indigenous partnerships, phasing out coal, and investing in green energy infrastructure. Every dollar earned from TMX will be invested to help fund initiatives like electrification projects, investments in renewable resources, and efforts to help Indigenous communities transition off diesel power.
JOAN PHILLIP (NDP): I would never compromise my values and integrity for electability. As an Indigenous woman, I believe strongly in our rights to protect our lands and waters for future generations. There is no doubt that the decision to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline was shameful and on the wrong side of history. Expansion of fossil fuels needs to stop now. Our survival as a species and the species on this planet is a non-partisan issue. The people of Alberta are an industrious people, let’s put their skills towards being leaders in green technology. My husband and I were on the front lines of the fight against the Trans Mountain Pipeline. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
TRAVIS ASHLEY (Green): That pipeline was bought from an original CEO of Enron for $500 million. That is less than an eighth of what the Texan company sold it back to us for. It is another estimated $11 billion to double the projected capacity. This is a pipeline that was built in the 1950s. Most economists said it was a terrible decision. Not only that, one tanker spill off the coast of B.C. will devastate our already so fragile and vulnerable ecosystem. I think the TMX is one of the worst fiscal federal decisions in the history of Canada. Why subsidize a dying industry? when we can better spend it on the bright future of a green economy for all Canadians.
JOHN BARR (People’s Party of Canada): According to industry experts, the Liberal government overpaid $1 billion on the purchase, then did not demonstrate the political will to ensure its success — abandoning the project by not pursuing an appeal in court.
STEPHEN FUHR (Liberal): Yes. The Trans Mountain pipeline was not getting built by the private sector and the vast majority of our petroleum resources are sold to the United States. A single customer results in a deeply discounted price and a dependency that exposes Canada to relationship risk. Given petroleum is still a large part of Canada’s economy, it makes sense that we seek additional markets for fair compensation and risk mitigation while we transition to cleaner and more efficient forms of energy. The government of Canada recently announced that all the proceeds generated from TMX will be used to help finance this transition.
TRACY GRAY (Conservative): I’m not convinced that Canadians want to own a pipeline. The reason the Trans Mountain expansion failed was because of the faulty approval process imposed by the Trudeau Liberals that created uncertainty for investors. The total cost to taxpayers will be over $7 billion and this is irresponsible. It is a concerning message to the world that a large infrastructure project in Canada requires the federal government to nationalize it. In an effort to work towards energy independence, Conservatives are focusing on developing a National Energy Corridor across the country that will minimize environmental impacts, increase certainty for investors, and ensure that critical projects are built, all while contributing to lowering GHG’s to help fight against climate change.
JUSTIN KULIK (NDP): For this answer, I’m putting aside my position on the project itself, and focusing specifically on the purchase by the Liberals. I do support the nationalization of major projects that will benefit the public. This is not one of those projects. I believe in getting good deals for taxpayers, and the Liberal government’s decision to purchase Trans Mountain was not a good deal for people. The Parliamentary budget officer agrees that the Liberals overpaid for the pipeline by $1 billion — $1 billion that could have been used for social services, climate justice, and paying down the national debt. Regardless of one’s opinion on the project itself, we should all agree that the Liberal government’s purchase of the pipeline was a dud.