IN THE HOUSE ~ Opposition Day Motion ~ Keystone pipeline job drain not in Canada's interest

41st Parliament, 2nd Session

Motion: "That, in the opinion of the House, the Keystone XL pipeline would intensify the export of unprocessed raw bitumen and would export more than 40,000 well-paying Canadian jobs, and is therefore not in Canada’s best interest."

Full speech:

Peter Julian, MP:  I would like to preface my remarks by talking a bit about my past. I used to work in one of the now closed oil refineries in this country, the Shellburn Refinery in Burnaby, British Columbia. As a result of having worked with oil, having had to clean out the oil tanks at the refinery as part of my job, I developed a healthy respect for that substance. When cleaning out oil tanks, people need oxygen tanks and full safety equipment. If the safety equipment malfunctions or the oxygen tanks run out, the worker is not around any more.

That degree of danger and a healthy respect for a substance that can bring some benefit but also some danger is something I would like to bring to the debate.

Just to start off, I would like say that we are talking today about Keystone and value-added jobs. We are also talking, though, about the government's lack of action on climate change and the environment. That is part of the ongoing narrative. As President Obama said so well when he was looking at Keystone, the Conservative government simply has to start taking environmental measures.

As we will see later on, Canada is beyond being a climate change laggard; we are among the worst of the 60 countries annually surveyed on climate change. We are in 58th place out of 61 countries. It shows an appalling lack of leadership and an appalling lack of responsibility on the part of the government.

There are environmental issues we will be bringing to the fore throughout the course of the day while we are debating this issue. There are also economic issues, which I will come back to in a moment, and of course, safety issues.

One of the things I will be pointing out in my 20 minutes is the fact that under the Conservatives, there is not only increasing danger in our railway system, which has been sadly and tragically underscored by the appalling devastation in Lac Mégantic, but in pipeline management, as well. Under the Conservative government, we have seen a steadily increasing number of pipeline leaks and pipeline spills. In fact, there has been a doubling over the last few years on the Conservatives' watch.

When we are talking about the issue of Keystone, we are talking about value-added jobs, of course, but we are also talking about a complete abdication of responsibility by the government on the environment, on climate change, and on pipeline safety. I think those are important issues to bring to the fore.

Earlier I referenced that I was refinery worker. I would also like to flag that on natural resources issues generally, the Conservative government has been appalling bad.

I represent the riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. Many of my friends went to high school in New Westminster, at the New Westminster Secondary School. After high school, my friends went into the softwood lumber industry. They worked at the three plants that existed there: Interfor, Canfor, and Western Forest Products in New Westminster. There were hundreds of well-paying jobs and thousands of indirect jobs that depended on the softwood industry.

All of that was eviscerated and evaporated overnight when the government irresponsibly signed the softwood lumber sellout. Now we have Conservatives laughing at the loss of jobs. I am sorry, but I think we should be standing up for the workers rather than having Conservatives laugh at the loss of jobs. Two thousand indirect jobs were lost as a result of the signature on that agreement. They may laugh at those families, many of whom I went to high school with. Those families had to cobble together a couple of part-time jobs.

The one hope they have is looking to 2015 and looking to the election of an NDP government that is actually going to take workers seriously.

I have seen first hand the devastation in my community wrought by the incredible irresponsibility of the government, signing an agreement it had not even read and did not even understand. The NDP certainly raised this issue consistently in the House.

I saw first-hand in the natural resources sector the loss of jobs, which eventually added up to about 60,000 manufacturing and value-added jobs lost in the softwood lumber industry following that agreement.

When we look at that, when we look at the actual loss of jobs in smelting and refining even in the mining industry, it is a source of real concern. Because the number of mining and quarrying jobs has gone up over the last few years, but Statistics Canada tells us that the number of jobs lost in the smelting and refining sector, when we are talking about mining, has gone far beyond any gain of jobs in mining and quarrying.

If we look at the lumber industry, at the mining industry and now at the energy industry, this has been a dismal period for working families. There is absolutely no doubt. We have to come back then to the issue of the energy industry. The Conservatives messed up the two other areas. Why would they be pushing Keystone, which results in a loss of value-added jobs?

I will start off by saying two undeniable facts and a third one that really impacts on Canadian working families.

The first undeniable fact is that under the current government we have lost half a million value-added and manufacturing jobs. That is a simple fact. It is undisputed. Even the Conservatives admit to it. They say they have given a few part-time service jobs so that must compensate. The reality is that half a million value-added and manufacturing jobs being lost on the watch of the Conservative government is undeniably a sign of failure.

Second, is our current account deficit. What we are doing increasingly is exporting raw materials and importing the value-added products and the manufacturing products from overseas. In 2011, that deficit on current accounts was $49 billion and it gets worse. Last year, it went to $62 billion. That is a record. We have never had a deficit that large in our nation's history. That is directly related to the government's failure on value-added jobs, its failure to understand that we need coherent policies and we need to put those policies in place to ensure that Canadians get to work.

The third point I would like to make and the third undeniable statistic is that the working families across this country, so many of whom are represented by NDP MPs in this Parliament, are now struggling under a record debt load. It is a burden that we have never seen in our history. It is actually highest in Alberta. Those working families struggling under a burden of massive debt because they have seen an erosion in real income at the same time as expenses continue to climb, that is something that is extremely germane to this debate. We are talking about Canadians over the last seven years getting poorer and poorer, and more and more in debt every year that the Conservatives are in power.

When we talk about value-added jobs, we are talking about something that has a profound impact on the quality of life of ordinary families right across this country.

Here we have the failure of the Conservative government in a whole range of sectors, a failure to create value-added jobs, failure to create manufacturing jobs, crippling debt loads and a current account deficit that is by far the worst that we have ever had in our history. What is the Conservative government's solution to all the problems it has inflicted on Canadians over the last seven years? Its solution seems to be to move to raw bitumen exports, and somehow that will address what has been the chronic mismanagement of the nation's economy for ordinary working people, families that simply are working with a lower quality of life than they had before.

 

Then we have to look at what the actual impacts are of this strategy for raw bitumen export. That brings us back to the issue of Keystone. In speaking about Keystone, I would like to start by citing some of the Albertans who have raised real concerns about what the impact of the Keystone pipeline is. We are talking about a pipeline that exports raw bitumen out of the country. What have some Albertans said about what this means in terms of good, well-paying, value-added jobs?

Former Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, who certainly seemed to understand that issue, said the following. I will read the quote slowly because it is important to have it on the record:

...shipping raw bitumen is like scraping off the topsoil, selling it and then passing the farm on to the next generation.

He said that in 2006.

That is really what we are talking about here. We are not talking about creating value-added jobs. We are talking about scraping off that topsoil and then sending to the next generation a farm that has no topsoil left. We have basically gone through the resource. We have not gotten the value-added jobs that should be coming with that, and yet at the same time, we have a government that is absolutely obsessed with the idea that this is the only way for Canadians to prosper.

Obviously, if that type of approach has not worked in a whole range of other sectors, Ed Stelmach is absolutely bang on in saying that this is not an appropriate response from any government that wants to create well-meaning, value-added jobs.

Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said the following about Keystone:
What we fear is that the consequence of this particular action will be to deny Albertans literally thousands of high-paying, long-term jobs in upgraders and refineries....

... barrel of bitumen shipped down the Keystone pipeline or other similar proposed pipelines is a barrel of oil no longer available for value-added production and job creation here in .

Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, in other words, the president of a federation of workers who work in the energy industry, said that in December 2007.

Those are two Albertan voices saying, very clearly, that the idea of sending raw bitumen out of the country means that literally we are sending jobs out of the country. This is a matter of real concern.

As far as the figures given and the approach given by the current government, I would like to cite a few other voices.

Robyn Allan comes from western Canada, like myself. She is a well-known economist in western Canada, as well as the former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, who is well-known for her commentary on the energy sector. She said that:

Chopping local downstream expansion projects....

In other words, not having value added but looking to export raw bitumen.

...breaks the value-added chain. Canada's oil resources increasingly become a pool of raw crude waiting to be siphoned off along pipelines serving economic development and energy security needs of other nations. These nations are smart. They know controlling the supply chain mitigates the pain of rising oil prices.

If more bitumen upgrading was undertaken where it comes out of the ground, we wouldn't need as many new pipelines. She references that about 30% less capacity is required when we are moving upgraded bitumen, as opposed to exporting raw bitumen.


Studies have been done along the Keystone pipeline. Informetrica, in 2006, studied the issue of exports of raw bitumen and came to the following economic analysis. At a rate of 400,000 barrels per day of export of raw bitumen, 18,000 jobs are lost. Here is an indication, by Informetrica, that for every 100,000 barrels of raw bitumen that are exported, we are looking at 3,000 or 4,000 jobs that are lost, which could be there. The building trades could be there and the energy sector could be there, both in terms of upgraders and refineries as well.

We are not talking about figures such as those sometimes cited by our friends on the government side. They will throw out studies that are promptly dismissed, because unfortunately in each of those cases, when we look at the studies themselves, they are not credible. When we have the credible studies that show what the economic impacts are, we have simply not had any understanding from the Conservatives of what the impacts are of putting all the eggs in the basket of raw bitumen exports.

 

The Alberta Federation of Labour also did an economic analysis, which they submitted to the National Energy Board, on Keystone XL. It showed that, as a result of the raw bitumen exports going through Keystone XL, we would be losing at least 40,000 Canadian jobs. That is a considerable amount. When we think of the growth in the energy sector, the loss of 40,000 potential jobs is extremely significant for our economic future.

What we are seeing in study after study, whether it is done by Informetrica, Robyn Allan or the Alberta Federation of Labour, is that we are simply giving away a resource without putting in place the smart economic policies that allow for the value-added jobs that need to come with that resource. We can talk about the shut down of Interfor in New Westminster, B.C., and the subsequent export of raw logs that resulted, or the shutting down of smelting and refining of our minerals, losing more jobs than we have gained in the mining and quarrying sector. We can also talk about the export of raw bitumen, and losing as a result tens of thousands of potential jobs.

In every one of those cases, we are talking about ordinary families struggling to get by under phenomenally heavy debt loads that get worse every year as a result of the policies of our federal government. Rather than those families getting relief and an economic plan in place that would actually make sense to fully develop those resources and have value added, we see a government hell-bent on exporting those jobs. We have seen from a number of very credible observers and analyses that, obviously, there is an impact.

I would like to come back to the issue of climate change and pipeline safety because those issues are also germane to the debate that we are having today.

As I mentioned earlier, there is an annual evaluation of how Canada is doing called the “Climate Change Performance Index�. In 2013, out of 61 countries evaluated by the Climate Change Performance Index, where do members think Canada stood? Do members think Canada was in the top 20? Well, it was not. Was it in the top 30, 40, 50? No. We placed 58th under the current government.

Placing 58th out 61 countries in the 2013 Climate Change Performance Index is not an “F�, it is being thrown out of the program. It is lamentably bad. There were countries that did worse. There were three of them. Kyrgyzstan was 59th, Iran 60th and Saudi Arabia was 61st.

Obviously, if what we are seeing around the world are other countries taking climate change seriously, we have to get with the program. It is not just Canadians who feel that way.

President Obama referenced this in connection with Keystone. He said very clearly that Canada, being a climate change laggard, had to start taking very concrete action on climate change and the environment. President Obama could not have been more clear. Therefore, if Keystone is not approved, it is as a result of the failure of the Conservative government to take any sort of action on the environment and climate change. Being 58th in the world clearly shows that.

I also mentioned pipeline safety. We have seen a doubling of the number of spills across Canada, which is of increasing concern to Canadians.

We believe in our leader, the member for Outremont and Leader of the Opposition, who has said repeatedly that we need to put in place a national energy strategy. We need to ensure value-added production in this country. We need to ensure that we have the top level of pipeline safety, and take action on climate change, of course, but also take action on the environment. We need to start transitioning to clean energy.

There is a trillion-dollar market worldwide, which is going to double over the next decade. Canada gets very little of that. In fact, in very real terms, the hundreds of thousands of new jobs that are coming from clean energy simply are not reflected in the Canadian economy. Therefore, folks across the country who will be looking in 2015 for real leadership can look to the NDP to put in place that national energy strategy in co-operation with the provinces, which will bring those value-added jobs and clean-energy jobs for all Canadians.

Share this page

Constituent Resources
Attend an Event

Sign up for updates