Questioning CAPP on Enbridge and climate policy at the Standing Committee of Finance of the House of Commons

As a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, I have the opportunity to participate in pre-budget consultations. I used the opportunity to question the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers about Enbridge and its climate change 'policy'.

Listen to the full audio here:

Read the transcript of the exchange below:

Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP): Thank you, Chair.

   Welcome to all of our witnesses. Bienvenue.

   I want to pose a couple of questions if I could, to Mr. Ferguson of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

   About a year ago now I ran in Victoria in a by-election and I suppose the principal plank of my platform was opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, for which I found literally zero support in our community. 

   My question is directed to you. 

   I was at a rally in Vancouver and there were a couple of thousand people last weekend, one of 130 rallies across the country opposing this project, among others, and one of the things that someone said struck me as poignant.  They said "the cabinet may give the permits, but the population gives the permission". 

   My question to you is, if Enbridge were to continue in the face of opposition by both non-aboriginal and aboriginal Canadians, would CAPP support that position if they got the permit from the regulator?


   Mr. Alex Ferguson: That's a difficult thing to answer for a specific company.

   Mr. Murray Rankin: I'm asking you about CAPP's position were Enbridge to say that they were going to go ahead because they had gotten the permits while in the face of the kind of opposition that you must know exists in my part of the world.

   Mr. Alex Ferguson: I think we would support proceeding given that we would fully expect not only the industry but the project proponent itself to carry through with whatever requirements are there to try to increase their social license. 

   Will that get through the permit? 

   We haven't really speculated through that process yet because we're waiting to see the outcome of that. There is a growing need certainly to increase hopefully, a level of support for market access for not just one specific project but for[Inaudible]-

   Mr. Murray Rankin: I certainly don't see it in my part of the world, I assure you.

   In your brief you say:

"Bills C-38 and C-45 improve regulatory efficiency and responsible environmental performance".

   Those were the bills that gutted the Fisheries Act and repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and replaced it with a very pale imitation of the statue that was repealed.

   What are you proposing when you say:

"The full benefits require effective and efficient regulations and policy that are implemented on an aligned whole of government and timely basis"?

   Can you explain what you mean by that?

   Mr. Alex Ferguson: Certainly.

   First of all, we look at the changes to some of that legislation. We see continued good environmental performance, there are some process changes that we believe took place in those two acts.

   We're very supportive of the new Fisheries Act for example because we think it points to a really good focused vehicle to get on with what we should be doing with fisheries values.

   Mr. Murray Rankin: I would agree with you, it's a "good focused vehicle" -- but not for environmental protection, surely for development at all costs. 

   Mr. Alex Ferguson: It's certainly not our view.

   One of the issues that we do see in the Fisheries Act though, and I'm alluding to the second part of your question, it's a piece of legislation that doesn't have a lot of regulation written yet. 

   To be an effective piece of work we would like to see the regulations come out from that. Those are starting to come out now so I think those will be the true telling of just what kind of effect they will have either on process or environmental protections.

   Mr. Murray Rankin: Okay.

   Thank you, Chair.

   Last year the International Centre of Climate Governance reported that Luxembourg and Canada where:

"...the farthest from the emission levels they agreed to keep, by 29% and 27% respectively".

   Canada was the 38th worst performer out of 39 amongst the countries on climate change commitment. 

   Places like Taiwan have grown their economy while at the same time cutting their emissions.

   My question to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is, do you have a climate policy and what is it?

   Mr. Alex Ferguson: Certainly, we've advocated and structured our position on greenhouse gas emissions policy for Canada around three key areas. One is to keep an eye on the competitiveness piece for the sector. The second is accepting and being responsive to the social license issues related to that. The third, a key underpinning, is a transfer or a reliance on technology and innovation as a key vehicle to get our reductions reduced. You've seen the numbers on oil sands reductions over time. It's been pretty significant. We're looking at continuing that work through results of what Canada will come out with in terms of a policy. We believe that a snapshot in time is probably not the best vehicle to look at certainly in our industry's performance.

   The Chair: Thank you very much.

   Thank you, Mr. Rankin.