IN THE HOUSE - NDP Opposition Day Motion - fossil fuel subsidies

44th Parliament, 1st Session

NDP urging the government to defend Canadians getting gouged at the pumps instead of helping big oil companies profit

The following motion was debated in the House on Tuesday May 17th, 2022:

Ms. Collins (Victoria) — That, given that,

(i) Canadians are paying almost $2 per litre of gas at the pump,

(ii) oil and gas companies are making record profits,

(iii) Canada spends 14 times more on financial support to the fossil fuel sector than it does for renewable energy,

the House call on the government to:

(a) stop using Canadian taxpayers’ money to subsidize and finance the oil and gas sector, including by eliminating financing provided through Crown corporations such as Export Development Canada, and excluding oil and gas companies from the $2.6 billion Carbon Capture Tax Credit, by the end of 2022; and

(b) re-invest savings from both these measures in renewable energy and in help for Canadians struggling with the high cost of living.


Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Madam Speaker, I always enjoy listening to the member for Calgary Centre. This time though it was so unrelated to the facts that it was quite unbelievable. Here we have a situation where we know we are talking about $8.6 billion in subsidies last year alone, record profits in the oil and gas sector and at the same time, people being gouged at the pumps. The Conservatives do not seem to recognize any of those realities.

    I came out of the oil industry and worked at the Shellburn Oil Refinery in Burnaby, British Columbia, also worked in social enterprise and won a number of business awards. I understand return on investment, but when Canadians are investing $8.6 billion in subsidies and we are seeing the increasing cost of climate change now reaching billions of dollars a year that impact Canadians right across the country, why do the Conservatives continue to deny the reality of climate change? Why do they continue to deny the reality of subsidies? Why do they deny the reality of the important issue that is before the House today?


Context: Debate

    I do not know what is worse, the climate denial of the Conservatives or the complete climate inaction of the Liberals. Both are bad and both have had a profound impact. The government's refusal to act, either because it is in denial or it simply does not want to act, is having a profound impact on our country.

    We talk about a situation where there are massive subsidies to the industry. At the same time there are massive subsidies to the industry, the kinds of actions that would help us contend with the climate crisis are not being taken. This is probably the key aspect of the motion that is before us today, that Canada spends 14 times more on financial support to the fossil fuel sector than it does for renewable energy.

    Other countries around the world are making that transition now. As I have seen in the past as an energy worker, they are putting into place just transition strategies so that energy workers are trained for the clean energy jobs of tomorrow. That is not happening in Canada because of the massive subsidies going to the oil and gas sector, to the detriment of everything else. I have met with companies that are innovating in clean energy and workers who want to go into clean energy and the big obstacle in Canada is that all of these sectors are starved for funding because 14 times more is going to oil and gas CEOs than is going to the clean energy sector. Companies have to move out of Canada because they are simply not getting the financing because the current government, like the previous government, refuses to put in place just transitions and refuses to adequately finance clean energy and the clean energy sector. Therefore, we have a situation where massive amounts of money, like a firehose of money, $8.6 billion last year alone, are going to oil and gas CEOs while the clean energy sector is literally starving for funds in the midst of a climate crisis that is killing Canadians, including my constituents. This makes absolutely no sense at all.

    Let us add another element. At the same time as we are seeing these massive subsidies being given to the oil and gas sector and record levels of profit, we see the gouging of Canadians at the pump. We have seen this before. Every time there is an international crisis in the oil and gas sector curiously all the prices rise up. As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives pointed out numerous times, in numerous credible and well-documented studies, that what we see when there is an international crisis is that the price goes up at the pump, even when the price per barrel has remained stable on old stock, and when the crisis is over, the prices come down and the new stock has a reduced barrel price we still see the high level of gas prices and millions of dollars taken out of the pockets of Canadian consumers each and every year by gas price gouging. The NDP has spoken to this. The member for Windsor West has proposed a gas prices review board. There are numerous ways we can tackle this, but both previous Conservative and current Liberal governments absolutely refuse to defend consumers against this gas price gouging that takes place.

    All of these elements are in the motion today. What we are suggesting is to end the subsidies. We have to provide supports for Canadians struggling with the high cost of living, including my constituents. We need to put into place investments in renewable energy.

    Ce qu'il faut faire, c'est arrêter de subventionner le secteur pétrolier. Il faut mettre en place l'énergie propre et y investir. Le Canada traîne, loin derrière d'autres pays, à cet égard.

    Il faut renforcer et aider les Canadiens qui sont en train de lutter face aux prix qui augmentent sans justification, par un secteur qui est simplement habitué à faire ce qu'il veut. Ni les libéraux ni les conservateurs ne veulent vraiment défendre les consommateurs et les consommatrices canadiennes.

    C'est pour cela que c'est important d'adopter cette motion. Je l'appuie pleinement, et je demande à tous les députés à la Chambre de voter en faveur de cette motion. C'est un changement de cap important pour aider les consommateurs et la planète.

Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian: That is exactly the point, Madam Speaker. I am so pleased that the member asked the question. It is exactly the difference between having a piece of paper that says good things and actually doing what is required. It is the action, not the words. It is not that Liberals have a great platform, it is the reality. If Mr. Weaver had been told that after the election the Liberals were going to jack up those oil and gas subsidies and starve to death the clean energy sector, giving 14 times more to oil and gas than to clean energy, Mr. Weaver would not have been on that podium at that event.

    It is not the words, but the action that counts, and we need action now because the planet is burning.


Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian: Madam Speaker, let us talk about subsidies. Let us talk about TMX that the private sector was walking away from, but the Liberals, with the support of the Conservatives, said that in 24 hours they were going to come up with $4.5 billion to buy the pipeline. It turns out the PBO said it was $1 billion more than it was even worth. Subsequent to that, we have seen tens of billions of dollars poured into TMX and the Parliamentary Budget Officer again said it is simply not a project that will ever return on investment the money that has been poured in by the public sector. Now we have a loan guarantee of an additional $10 billion, so over $30 billion have been poured into TMX that will never return that money to taxpayers. Why do the Conservatives not speak out against that abuse of public funds?


Context: Debate

    Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues from Victoria and Timmins—James Bay for bringing forward this important motion today. I would like to start off by saying I will be sharing my time with the terrific member of Parliament for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.

    I appreciate the opportunity to rise on this motion. This is an important motion because of what Canadians are living through and what the planet is living through. I would like to start with my personal experience, because I come from the oil and gas sector. I was a refinery worker in Burnaby, B.C., at the Shellburn oil refinery, so I understand the important role oil and gas play in our country's history and the important role they continue to play in our economy.

    That being said, also as a British Columbian, I witnessed, as so many other people in British Columbia witnessed last year, the direct and tragic impacts of climate change. We are not talking about years from now; we are talking about a real danger that is manifesting itself now, today.

    Last summer in my riding and across the lower mainland, for the first time ever, we had the heat dome that impacted our communities; 600 British Columbians died in that terrible wave of heat. These are seniors, people with disabilities and lower income people who were in apartments, often with no access to air conditioning. As the heat rose, so did the death toll. Over the course of days we heard ambulances constantly throughout our city. In talking with ambulance technicians and paramedics, we know they were simply overwhelmed by the death toll as the heat dome had a greater and greater impact. People died in their apartments; people died in their beds; people died struggling for air.

    This heat dome had a catastrophic impact in the lower mainland. Firefighters were brought in, because the paramedics were overwhelmed, and in both Burnaby and New Westminster, firefighters do an extraordinary job of providing a remarkable service to people in our communities. They said that if the heat dome had continued for another day or two, the entire emergency response services simply would have been overwhelmed and would have collapsed. That is how bad it was.

    We lived through that heat dome, and there is anticipation that it is going to happen again this summer. Climate change is not something we can deny; climate change is not something we can simply set aside. Climate change is real, and it is killing people now in this country, let alone when we talk about around the world and impacts of climate change. Coming right back to Canada, there is an impact on Canadians that is real and profound.

    Following the heat dome, we also lived through a number of other catastrophic climate events, including atmospheric rivers that flooded massive parts of the lower mainland, as we well know, and high winds, as well. Vocabulary like “heat domes” and “atmospheric rivers” were unknown to us prior to the climate crisis, but those impacts are felt now and they are felt profoundly.

    We are no longer talking about something where the impacts will be felt maybe in 10 or 20 years. Maybe that was an excuse for inaction both from previous Conservative governments and the current Liberal government, but there is no excuse now. The impacts are real, and we are feeling them now. The impacts are on lives. The impacts are on crumbling infrastructure. The impacts are on our economy, and those impacts are growing.

    There were over $5 billion in economic costs last year alone, and that number will continue to rise, so when we look at the motion today and the reality of today, with climate change having a profound impact right now and killing Canadians right now, I ask what the government response is. The response of the current government has been to increase oil and gas subsidies to the tune of $8.6 billion. It does not even make sense, when we know the impact of climate change, to have a government that says this is business as usual and that it is going to increase those subsidies.


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