The president and chief executive of the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO 0.17%) is warning all Canadians will "pay a price" as the country struggles to develop pipelines and other crucial infrastructure for the energy sector.

"As Canadians, we must not fool ourselves," said Brian Porter in a speech to Calgary's Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon. "As investment dollars shift to other jurisdictions and countries and Canadian competitiveness lags, we all pay a price."

Porter lamented what he described as Canada's inability to "say yes." Although he didn't single out any specific project in his remarks, the list of cancelled and delayed pipelines is well documented, including TransCanada Corp.'s doomed Energy East pipeline, Enbridge Inc.'s ill-fated Northern Gateway, and the saga surrounding the now federally-owned Trans Mountain expansion.

And he urged governments need to get on the same page to avoid further delays and cancellations.

"This industry is on its back," Porter told reporters.

"Tone at the top matters, a helping hand matters. The industry is important to all Canadians and the Canadian economy at large. ... We can't take 10 and 12 years to do some of these projects, it just doesn't work," he added, noting the approval process must be transparent and take environmental factors into consideration.

Porter pointed out Alberta's fortunes are important to him personally and professionally, walking the audience from his years working on drilling rigs to help cover tuition costs, to his present role overseeing an institution with approximately 2,500 employees in the province. According to the most recent data, Scotiabank's loan book included $15 billion in borrowings in the global energy sector.

"You can talk about the Permian Basin, and there's always going to be a hot play that comes and goes," Porter said. "But the world needs Canada's energy. We have to get it to tidewater and get it to the people that need it."

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