Energy Policies, Canada’s Future

By Whitney Hunter

After coming through its most recent election, Alberta is slowly seeing action on a number of issues which will have significant impacts on the energy industry. As the federal election approaches we at The Hitch want to make sure you have an overview of each party’s oil and gas platform. All policies and directives have been taken from the parties’ respective websites and public interviews with leaders. They are as comprehensive as possible as of the time of printing. We encourage all Canadians to take some time to understand these policies and Vote Energy in October!

The Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) focus for the upcoming election will be to “fix our energy sector.” A Conservative government would take immediate action to “reverse Justin Trudeau’s failed policies and make Canada a place where energy investment is encouraged again.” It appears that a CPC government would immediately repeal the federal carbon tax, which is currently in force in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

The Conservative Party, if successful, intends to repeal two pieces of legislation which have received a lot of attention from the oil and gas industry.

Bill C-69, titled “The modernization of the National Energy Board (NEB) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency,” intends to overhaul Canada’s regulatory review process for major infrastructure projects. Passed in June 2019 the bill will replace the NEB with a new regulatory body, the Canadian Energy Regulator, and change the environmental assessment process to include a new “Impact Assessment Agency”. It is thought that this bill will impose an onerous consultative burden on industry. A CPC government would aim to enact legislation that would clarify the consultative process.

The second bill that a Conservative government would repeal is Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. The bill was enacted in June 2019 and it intends to regulate the more than 12,500 tons of vessel transported oil along B.C.’s northern coast. It is believed by many that Bill C-48 would not only be detrimental for shipping oil and gas to new markets, but would also pick winners (liquid natural gas, which can still be shipped) and losers (propane and crude). A Conservative government would “use federal declaratory power to declare a major project ‘for the general advantage of Canada,’ where we deem it necessary for future projects”.

The Conservative Party of Canada plans to set emissions standards for major emitters that produce more than 40 kilotons per year of greenhouse gases, and require these emitters to invest in private-sector research and development of green technology. They would also review and modernize air quality standards and regulations, with a focus on urban air sheds.

The centerpiece of the Conservative Party of Canada’s energy strategy is a National Energy Corridor. This would move oil, gas, electricity, telecommunications and anything else that runs along the ground, across the country. The goal of this corridor is to “create wealth, prosperity, and opportunity for all Canadians.”

After four years in power the Liberal Party of Canada plan to continue the work they have begun to, in their own words, balance the need to strengthen the economy with strong environmental protections. As they present their vision for the next four years, the Liberals plan to invest heavily in “clean jobs” by way of spending $100 million more each year in clean technology producers, and support for emerging clean tech manufacturing companies, and $200 million more each year to “support innovation and the use of clean technologies in our natural resource sectors including forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agricultural sectors.” The party plans to incentivize clean technology investment to make Canada the world’s most competitive tax jurisdiction for investment in the research, development, and manufacturing of clean technology.

The Liberal Party of Canada will continue work they began in their first term, to change how environmental assessments are done for resource-based projects. This appears to be a continuation of Bill C-69 “The modernization of the National Energy Board (NEB) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.”

After declaring a national climate emergency in June of 2019, the Liberals plan to work closely with provinces and territories to develop a Canadian Energy Strategy that will help Canada meet its Paris Climate Agreement targets. The goal of this strategy will be to “protect Canada’s energy security; encourage energy conservation; and bring cleaner, renewable energy onto the electricity grid.” Part of this strategy will include developing climate change solutions which are “consistent with our international obligations to protect the planet, all while growing our economy.”

In 2018 the federal government announced their intent to acquire the Trans Mountain expansion from Kinder Morgan. The pipeline’s expansion has been approved by the Governor in Council and it is believed that the construction will continue through the election.

The New Democratic Party has been clear about their goal to power Canada with net carbon free electricity by 2030 and to move to 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050. To do this they will establish a Canadian Climate Bank which aims to boost investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low carbon technology. They plan to provide support for the provinces to develop inter-connecting power grids and introduce smart grid technology to more easily distribute clean power across Canada. The Climate Bank also aims to make it easier for Canada’s clean energy sector to succeed. The NDP has promised to spend $15 billion to create 300,000 green jobs across the country.

The NDP will abandon the Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) project; fully overhaul the environmental review process for resource projects and make significant steps to improve the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

The NDP plan to make significant legislative changes to decrease Canada’s waste by banning single-use plastics by 2022, setting targets to retrofit homes across Canada by 2050 and modernizing the public transit system across Canada.

The NDP intend to work with the provinces to provide training and re-training for jobs in new markets and to keep Canadians on the cutting edge of the evolving work environment. They will also work to expand and support innovative Canadian clean technologies and  manufacturing.

The NDP have committed to strong carbon pricing which aims to  reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They will also put  emissions reduction targets into legislation and create an independent Climate Accountability Office to  audit  climate goals.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said  he supports the approval of the new liquefied natural gas pipeline and export facility in B.C. as “The LNG project has demonstrated some clear, positive steps around consultation.” This has been a controversial position both inside and outside the party.

The NDP have a clear focus, to address what they call Canada’s “climate emergency”, their commitments take steps to address that perceived emergency.

The Green Party of Canada has released a 20-step Climate Action Plan which aims to address the report and recommendations of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This plan starts with declaring a climate emergency at every level of government. They plan to set new targets, ban fracking and remove all fossil fuel generation from across the country by 2030.

The Greens propose a law requiring a 60-per-cent cut in greenhouse-gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, a steeper reduction than Canada’s current 30-per-cent target. It would also seek to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

The party says it would ban hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to extract fuels, approve no new pipelines, coal, or oil or gas drilling, and cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline. By 2030 the Greens want 100 per cent of Canada’s electricity to come from renewable sources and to ban the sale of passenger vehicles with combustion engines by that year.

The Green Party plans to transition fossil fuel workers to new roles starting with an orphaned well cleanup, creating a national program to retrofit all buildings to optimum energy efficiency, and to establish a transition framework unique to each province.

The party wants to switch to bio-diesel by promoting the development of small scale bio-diesel production through reliance on used vegetable fat from restaurants.

The Green Party plans to take dramatic action to curtail GHG sources across Canada and prioritize adaptation to a new focus including replanting forests and restoring carbon sinks across the country.

The newest party on to the Canadian political scene is the People’s Party of Canada. Leader Maxime Bernier and his new party have put in place a plan for the oil and gas industry to “grow, export its products, and bring prosperity to our country.” The PPC plans to counter foreign environmental non-government-organizations (ENGO) “propaganda”. Similar to the Conservative Party of Canada, the People’s Party of Canada will repeal Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 and expedite the appeals process to approve pipelines. Furthermore the party will “reassert federal jurisdiction over pipeline constructions by invoking section 92(10) of the constitution and have parliament declare any project to be ‘for the general advantage of Canada.’”

The People’s Party of Canada will focus on private investment for both future energy projects as well as for new green technology. The party plans to find a private buyer for the TMX project.

The Bloc Québécois will run candidates only inside the Province of Quebec, and have a much more specific platform than the other parties noted above. The Bloc has a significant focus on the use of resources to promote clean energy. The Bloc Québécois would adopt a zero-emission law and require every manufacturer to sell a minimum of zero-emission cars on par with the number of gasoline run cars sold.

The belief by the Bloc Québécois is that the government (both Quebec and Canadian) should promote the availability of clean energy in order to attract foreign investment to create sustainable jobs, rather than focus on the traditional energy sector.

A major element of the Bloc Québécois priorities is to continue to block the previously proposed Energy East pipeline. The party will “use all means at its disposal, whether parliamentary, political, diplomatic or legal, to block the Energy East pipeline project.”