AMHERST, N.S. – Canadians spend billions importing foreign oil while selling oil at a discount to the U.S.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says an Energy East oil pipeline would put an end to those trends.
“With a project like Energy East we can displace that foreign oil, create jobs here in Canada, and get a step closer to being self-sufficient as a country when it comes to energy,” said Scheer during a meet-and-greet Friday afternoon at Victoria Square in Amherst.
Scheer said, if elected, his government would be a cheerleader for Canadian energy.
“We’ve seen Justin Trudeau go around the world apologizing for Canada’s natural resources and apologizing for the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of families that depend on the oil and gas sector. He goes to Europe and he says he’s working on phasing it out altogether,” said Scheer. “A conservative government will champion those types of products. We will do everything we can to revive the Energy East program to bring western energy to eastern Canadian markets so we can get off of foreign oil and create jobs and opportunities right here in Atlantic Canada.”
He questions protesters who protest Canadian oil, while giving foreign oil a pass.
“Nothing drives me more crazy than when I see protesters blocking Canadian projects, lying down in front of tractors and bulldozers to stop projects to get Canadian products to market so we can get a better price, so we don’t have to take the discount we take from the U.S.,” said Scheer. “I don’t see them blockading up and down the Saint Lawrence, while tanker after tanker of foreign oil comes into Canada.”
He says pipeline protesters, like all Canadians, need to follow the rule of law.
“People have the right to protest, they have the right to express their opposition, but they don’t have the right to ignore court orders or to ignore valid processes that lead to approvals.”
Scheer says it was ‘mean-spirited’ for the Federal Liberals to force the oil and gas industry to account for greenhouse gas emissions both upstream and downstream, while the same standards don’t apply to the aerospace and auto sectors.
He believes better communication is the answer to getting Energy East off the ground.
“There’s a lot of motorists east of Manitoba who probably aren’t aware of the percentage of fuel that comes from overseas, and that we’re selling our raw crude oil at a discount and buying refined products from other countries,” said Scheer. “But we’ve seen from the polling in Quebec and Atlantic Canada and Ontario that Canadians want to buy Canadian energy, they don’t want to buy oil from Algeria, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.”
Other topics Scheer touched on was borders, trade, and dealing with Donald Trump if he becomes prime minister.
Scheer believes prime minister Justin Trudeau has fumbled the ball with regard to asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S.
“He had an irresponsible tweet that he couldn’t resist issuing at that time. People took him up on his offer and over 30,000 have crossed illegally from a safe country,” said Scheer. “This is the point we all have to remember, they are not fleeing persecution, they are not fleeing civil war or strife, they are walking across the border from upstate New York, a place I have visited many, many times, a place where you will not be persecuted for your race or religion, a country that has signed onto the same U.N. protocols we have signed onto, and that is where they should make their application (for citizenship).”
He said bussing people to Montreal and Toronto and putting them up in hotels is a band-aid solution.
“That doesn’t solve the problem at its core, which is that people are taking advantage of our very generous refugee and immigration system.”
Trade with the U.S.
Trade negotiations with the U.S. are stalled on several fronts, and Scheer believes part ot the problem is that Trudeau’s needs to get his priorities straight.
"When the Liberals announced they were going to add a whole lot of issues at the negotiating table, social issues that don’t have anything to do with market access, and that don’t have anything to do with the free flow of goods and services, we were concerned,” said Scheer. “We said that may be an impediment to getting a deal done on things like tariffs and auto parts, and our suggestion was that we should focus on the market side.”
Trade in dairy products has been a sticking point between Canada and the U.S. at the negotiating table.
“On the issue of supply management, I wouldn’t characterize it as a subsidy in Quebec. It’s a national program and every province has a dairy industry that benefits from the stability that comes with supply management,” said Scheer. “I do get frustrated when Americans, and even some voices in Canada, forget that the U.S. has a vast system of support for their agricultural sector, including their dairy sector.”
Many recent polls show Scheer’s Conservatives in a statistical dead heat with Trudeau’s Liberals. Asked how, if elected, he would deal with Donald Trump, Scheer said the relationship between Canada and the U.S. transcends politics and personalities.
“I look back and Canadian history, and there are times when we have prime ministers of different parties or parties at the same end of the spectrum as the U.S.,” said Scheer. “I would make it a priority to make sure NAFTA is preserved and, beyond that, on a person-to-person level, Canadians share a lot of the same values as Americans do.”