It’s part of the Conservative’s overarching election plan to reinvigorate investment in Canada’s energy sector, including the Alberta oilsands, that would also see a national carbon tax scrapped and replaced with green-energy incentive programs.
Pressed Saturday to explain how a national energy corridor would work as there are multiple projects with varied routes in Canada, Scheer told The Vancouver Sun/Province’s editorial board that the initial plan is to remove roadblocks for large projects that would get natural resources to deep water ports, but also Quebec electricity to Ontario.
That would involve establishing a “geographic space” where the government can take a leadership role in addressing Indigenous consultations in a dynamic way, and determining the most environmentally-sensible route, Scheer said.
It’s markedly different than the plan outlined by the Trudeau Liberals that attempts to balance the economy and the environment by backing only the $9.3-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion through southern B.C., phasing out coal energy and implementing a national carbon tax. The NDP and Greens are opposed to building oil pipelines and increased oil production.
The Conservatives and the Liberals are neck-and-neck in the polls with the vote scheduled for Oct. 21.
British Columbia is a traditional hotbed for Conservative support, although in the 2015 election, the Trudeau Liberals won more seats. Both party leaders, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, have made numerous campaign stops in B.C.
The energy corridor plan includes appointing a senior government official to handle consultations, said Scheer.
Once a corridor is established, the private sector will pay for the actual construction, he said.
Enbridge’s $7.9-billion Northern Gateway was cancelled by the Trudeau government in 2016 at the same time as it approved the Trans Mountain expansion. Many First Nations along the northern B.C. corridor route, including the Haisla at its terminus in Kitimat, were adamantly opposed to the project over spill risks on land and in the ocean.
Scheer argued Saturday that while the Trans Mountain expansion project is important, it does not provide the benefits that Northern Gateway would have provided, because its terminus in Kitimat is a deep water port capable of handling larger oil tankers than at Trans Mountain terminus in Burnaby.
Scheer said that, while respecting a court ruling that found inadequate First Nation consultations on Northern Gateway, the Conservative would go back and redo consultations. “(That) ensures that when a private sector proponent comes through and says we are willing to invest the billions of dollars required to get this built, that government doesn’t have to do it because the consultations have been done properly,” said Scheer.
The Conservatives have been critical of the Trudeau Liberals for purchasing the Trans Mountain expansion and existing pipeline assets for $4.5 billion after U.S.-based Kinder Morgan threatened to pull the plug on the project.
On Saturday, a day after the Conservatives delivered their platform that would see infrastructure spending cut by $18 billion over the next five years, Scheer said that transit was a priority and projects already approved would go ahead.
Scheer has already singled out the $3.5-billion Massey Tunnel project as going ahead, but would not say whether the $2.83 billion Broadway subway project and the $1.6-billion light rapid transit project in Surrey are on the list.
Asked how he would address housing affordability in Metro Vancouver, Scheer said municipalities that reduced red tape to improve development times to increase housing supply would be eligible for general funding.
While in B.C. Saturday, Scheer announced that former B.C. Liberal finance minister Kevin Falcon will co-chair a commission to reduce government subsidies to companies.
It’s part of a plan to cut corporate handouts by $1.5 billion annually.