Friday, January 29, 2016

Federal Politics 

Energy East Pipeline Debate

Chilliwack-Hope MP Strahl describes how the oil and gas sector layoffs have affected riding

Voice staff

 

he House of Commons is back in session for their 42nd Parliament as of last Monday and are midway through a 2-week sitting.

 

As Minister of Fisheries, Chilliwack MP Mark Strahl spoke about the need to end the current monopoly on the "lucrative" Arctic surf clam fishery in Atlantic Canada which apparently is worth $60M. He talked about the need to break the stranglehold that a certain company has on the fishery in an attempt to create more jobs on the east coast, and allow more companies in to the fishery.

Previously, the Liberals withdrew support for a plan where they wanted to increase the harvest tonnage, but are backing off that plan now. Maybe it's a wise choice in order to sustain the fishery.

There have been reports that the oceans have all been severely over-fished. It would be prudent to ensure that there is a universal approval for the plan moving forward. Obviously, you can't just haphazardly increase the catch without first making sure the government's science correct, back by peers from all sectors, not just the government.

Strahl says the science is already in, but the Liberals say they want more peer-reviewed science before they move on opening the fishery, which will take more time, several weeks apparently.

On Thursday, January 28, 2016, in Strahl's first speech in the House of Commons, thanked his Chilliwack-Hope volunteers for their work during the last election campaign.

Strahl then called on the Liberals for more support of the Energy East Pipeline Project in an environmentally sustainable way and focused on the "devastating" job loss in Alberta and Saskatewan due to the falling price of oil. Over 100,000 jobs have been cut in the energy sectors in those provinces.

Strahl mentioned the impact that the struggling sector has had on Chilliwack and the 100's of jobs created by big and small business. He pecked at the PM Trudeau who he said was running around anti-energy celebreties with in a recent trip to Davos, Switzerland.

According to Strahl, it's a bad situation now for many in Chilliwack with Britco Structures in Kent who had 200 employees living with their families in Chilliwack, and building trailers for the oil patches. But now, he said the company was down to just a skeleton crew and operating on "work-sharing programs" so the employees can survive.

Tycrop Manufacturing is another local company he says is struggling and who relies in large part on the oil and gas sectors.

One of the business owners there told Strahl that “Rosedale TYCROP has laid off over 100 staff, or roughly $7 million in payroll affecting Chilliwack and surrounding areas, Hope, Abbotsford, and Langley. We estimate that in excess of another 100 jobs of equal value have been lost by contract supply partners to TYCROP with a similar payroll value. The impact is severe with no new orders in sight. I just checked my email and there were five new layoffs today alone. We could not carry these people any longer. There was nothing for them to do.”

IMW, who supplies parts for the natural gas fields, has been hit hard as well, having to lay off dozens

The trickle-down effect is indirectly taking a toll on other businesses in the area where many of their best customers have been laid off and no longer can afford to shop or do business there.

Other businesses have seen an uptick in applications for employment such as at the Canex lumberyard.

Strahl described a darkening situation for many families across the Lower Mainland and the rest of the country, many of whom are now having to rely on food banks. He also says there has been a massive uptick in property crime, contrary to the latest City Hall reports regarding the Quality of Life in the region, and leading to extra worries and concerns for families who hold out hope things are going to get better soon.

Strahl also told the House that approving certain energy sector projects is critical to Chilliwack and the rest of the country and that Liberal opposition to pipelines is only ideological.

"We will only support pipelines if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. When we were in government, we imposed hundreds of conditions on the pipeline projects that were approved. We demanded world-class marine spill response, world-class monitoring, world-class construction, and world-class standards. We did this by investing in world-class science. All independent analyses show that pipelines are the safest way to transport petrochemicals. That is a simple fact. If the new Liberal government actually believes in evidence-based policy making, then the Liberals should approve those pipeline projects that are shown to be safe," he said.

Belittling, berating and ridicule is not what the country needs he said. All Canadians rely in some way on the oil and gas sectors.

Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, fired back that the Tories left $9B unspent in the budget that could have have been invested to provide economic alternatives

Strahl responded saying the unemployed didn't need lectures, and need jobs to put food on the table, and closed using a quote from Premier Christy Clark who called the NDP "the forces of no" and told the members that his party will continue to stand up for the energy sector.

The parties are debating the "energy east" plan for a $20B pipeline project with about 14,000 technical jobs over the nine years it will take to complete the project, and 3,000 permanent jobs. The Tories accuse the Liberals of creating a negative investment climate in Canada.

Strahl lambasted the Liberals for tacking on more rules and regulations and red tape this week for pipelines and changing the rules as they go to further depress the economy. Instead, adding 9 ore months to the regulatory process.

"We will defend the approach we took when we were in government. We will certainly defend the energy sector, as we are doing here today," said Strahl.

When asked by the opposition why his government didn't get the pipelines built when they were in office, Strahl responded that the Tories were relying on a science-based regulatory process, such as what is happening now with the NEB hearings in Burnaby.

The Conservatives say Canada has a network of pipelines running for 115,000 km moving about 3.2 million barrels of oil and 14.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. Without a pipeline and if trucks were used, it would mean more than 15,000 extra long distance truck trips daily on Canada's highways and through our communities, with extra emissions, road maintenance, public safety and the potential for road accidents.

 

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