Finance Minister Bill Morneau was met by hundreds of protesters during his recent visit to Calgary, in what was seen by many as righteous indignation regarding the federal government’s energy policies. The protest, organized by pro-development groups, Canada Action and Rally for Resources, had several hundred protesters surrounding the convention centre where Minister Morneau was scheduled to speak to local business leaders. The loud chant of “Build the Pipe” could be heard from afar and dozens of signs were on display with slogans like “I love Canadian Oil & Gas” and “Kill Bill C-69” in reference to an oil and gas regulation act which is now in front of the Senate.
Frustration at $4.5B Trans Mountain buyout
The protest encapsulated the feeling felt by many that the Federal Government has acted against the interests of the Canadian energy sector. Many protesters were frustrated with the decision to purchase the $4.5 billion Trans Mountain pipeline using taxpayer funding, which Minister Morneau has defended since the time of the purchase. “There was no other reasonable alternative but for us to step in and purchase that pipeline,” he said in Calgary. Many Canadians, however, have felt that the feds had plenty of time in the year before this decision to come up with a better alternative that did not involve sinking billions of taxpayer dollars in a desperate last ditch attempt to save the project. The protesters in front of the Telus Convention Centre were also worried about the future of the energy sector.
Bill C-69 would forever damage Canada's energy industry
Bill C-69, which is currently making its way through the Senate, is slated to radically change to approval process for energy infrastructure like pipelines. Protestors aimed their frustration at points like allowing essentially anyone to testify during the consultation stage (including those who have nothing to do with the project in question), and forcing future projects to be assessed on factors that many consider irrelevant to energy infrastructure (such as “the intersection of sex and gender”). For many in the oil and gas industry, Bill C-69 will make it practically impossible for any new pipelines to get approved. Bill C-69 is expected to pass the senate and go into law without much difficulty.
Rally a continuation of opposition to Justin Trudeau
This rally was very similar to the one that sprang up last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Calgary. In an attempt to reassure the hundreds that showed up to protest, the Prime Minister was quoted as saying: "There are many things that are beyond our control here, whether it's the refineries down for maintenance or whether it's what's happening overseas around oil prices or whether it's the fact that we are constrained and have been for a long time to sell 99 percent of our oil to the U.S. We are working very hard to change that." This week, Morneau gave a similar message, defending the government’s recent decisions while recognizing that this is a terrible time for the Canadian energy sector. Morneau added that while Canadian energy is “under threat,” he believes that the government's new policies announced last week will simulate investment.