Andrew Scheer pushes plan for national energy corridor at stop in Calgary

Andrew Scheer used a stop in Calgary on Saturday to go over his party’s plan to get pipelines built across the country.

The conservative party leader proposed setting out clear timelines for regulatory approvals and ensuring Indigenous consultations are done in what he called “the right way.”

Scheer said over the past four years, oil companies have walked away from investing in Canada.

“Those companies, Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and TransCanada, continue to invest in pipelines — just not in Canada,” Scheer said.

Bob Schulz, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, said employment opportunities in Calgary will improve once pipelines are built, and more investment from foreign sources will likely increase.

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“They have lots of assets that could produce more oilsands but they would need extra investment to do that — but why would you do that if the oil isn’t going to go in a pipeline to China? They are dealing with lots of different assets all over the world and Canada was supposed to be a safe and secure place to go and invest in. Now, the assets are in the ground, we can get them out but we can’t get them in a pipeline to go to China,” Schulz said.

Scheer is also pitching the notion of a cross-Canada corridor, dedicated to rail, power lines, pipelines and telecommunications, that has been around since the 1960s. The corridor would be a huge multi-jurisdictional undertaking and could take decades to establish but Scheer said a right-of-way would make it easier to lower environmental assessment costs, improve certainty for investors and increase the chances that more projects will be built.

“Our resources are becoming landlocked and they’re not being able to develop, and big projects aren’t being able to get done. So what I’m proposing is that we do the hard work now so that years and years and years later we won’t have to worry about this, so future generations of Canadians can benefit from the hard work that we are doing today,” Scheer said.

Had a corridor been established 50 years ago, pipelines would have been easier to get through, according to U of C economist Trevor Tombe.

“It’s a simple idea that instead of doing project-specific evaluations around environmental or community-based impacts, you would pre-designate an area where you do a lot of that analysis beforehand so that if you are building within the corridor, then you have a much more expedited review process,” Tombe said.

“I think there is more uncertainty around the payoff from such an initiative than doing the analysis when it is connected to a concrete project proposal. But as we have seen in the past few years, a lot of the challenges that we are dealing with now potentially wouldn’t have been as severe if we had such a corridor.”

In a statement sent to Global News on Saturday, the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources Canada said the Trudeau government’s plan on creating market access is working.

“The Conservatives spent a decade failing our energy sector and failing Canadians. For 10 years they ignored Indigenous communities, environmental and local concerns. And for 10 years, they got nothing built to new markets. Andrew Scheer’s plan is no better — he’s making it up on the fly. And he will use the same outdated approach,” the statement read.

“We are proposing better rules, in consultation with Indigenous communities, businesses, environmental groups, and Canadians to develop our resources. Our government is focused on building a clean growth economy, and taking action on climate change.”

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