INN has done your initial homework on the Canadian political parties and their platforms on energy and resources.
It’s election season in the north: Canada goes to the polls on October 21, and politicians have been on the road actively campaigning since September 11, when parliament was dissolved.
The campaign has been mostly noise about Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing brownface or blackface on three recorded occasions, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh’s run in with a bigoted Montrealer and questions around Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s loyalty to Canada, but the real meat of the choice for Canadians is, of course, based on the parties’ policies.
Here, the Investing News Network takes a look at the resource industry policies of the five major parties campaigning for the affection of Canadian voters.
But first, let’s have a quick look at what the campaign has been going over so far.
Resources in the news
As mentioned, the writs were dropped on September 11 for an October 21 election — almost six weeks of politicians kissing babies and writing blank checks.
One of the big developments in 2019 so far has been the falling out between the provincial wing of the NDP in Alberta and its federal counterpart, with former Alberta premier Rachel Notley clashing with party leader Singh over support for the Trans Mountain pipeline to the coast of British Columbia.
Oil and gas has always been a thought lingering nearby for Canadian politicians thanks to Alberta, which has featured strongly in news cycles recently. Saudi Arabian oil production was blown away in mid-September, prompting the current Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, to take a few shots at opponents of pipelines connecting Alberta’s oil fields to the rest of the world.
Comparing the policy platforms
Among the parties and within the Canadian community, a major lightning rod of disagreement has been the business of oil and pipelines.
Speaking with the Investing News Network in September, Tim McMillan, who is president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said that the debate around oil production and transportation is damaging the nation’s economy.
“As countries around the world are probably assessing their supply sources … they can look at Canada, but there is no ability to get our substantial resources to them,” he said.
So, let’s take a look at how the parties compare.
Liberal Party of Canada
First up, the incumbent Liberals, led by Trudeau. The Liberals have had a majority government since the last election in 2015, securing 184 seats (although it has since dropped to 177 seats).
The Liberals have their policies conveniently bundled into one document detailing their entire agenda. Overall, it mostly sidesteps talking up the resources industry and only discusses it in an ancillary way.
As presented online, the Liberal platform conspicuously leaves details sparse about its 2018 purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan (TSX:KML,OTC Pink:KMLGF) for C$4.5 billion.
Within the Liberal Party’s complete platform, the term “pipeline” only appears twice — and both times in the context of the clean economy.
The second mention of the pipeline relates to shipping, with the Liberals saying that marine shipping is a major culprit in emissions, so they are committed to developing quieter, lower-emissions tankers to transport oil from the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The word “mining” only appears once in the Liberal platform, and only in relation to government initiatives to encourage zero-emission vehicles like mining trucks.
“Resource” returns similarly slim results, with references to the resources industry limited to cleaner fuels — the Liberals will introduce a new C$5 billion clean power fund — and introducing revenue sharing with the indigenous communities whose lands are affected by projects.
Conservative Party of Canada
The official opposition in Canada is led by Scheer, who hails from Saskatchewan — one of only two provinces in 2015 that voted largely Conservative, the other being Alberta.
As noted, Scheer has been pushing for a number of big changes to the resources industry, mainly by scrapping the federal carbon tax, which was introduced to bring four provinces in line with the other six.
The Conservatives also plan to repeal Bill C-69 on impact assessments, which Alberta Premier Kenney has dubbed the “no more pipelines bill.” The criticism of C-69 hinges on it being additional red tape that would lower Canada’s competitiveness in the resources industry, adding hurdles for future projects and limiting investment.
Most recently, the Conservatives have been pitching an “energy corridor” from coast to coast that they say would help the broader energy industry thrive.
When it comes to the Conservative platform, the word “pipeline” appears nine times — with the party declaring that it “continue(s) to support exploration for fossil fuels, pipeline construction, transportation efficiencies and plant improvements to increase energy conversion efficiencies and reduce pollutant and greenhouse gas discharges.”
“Mining” gets its own section in the Conservative platform, albeit a slim one, with the party committing itself to supporting investment in geosciences and streamlining regulatory processes, including the aforementioned repealing of C-69.
An area that Liberal platform doesn’t address that the Conservative platform does is offshore resource development. The Conservatives believe that the government should promote exploration and development along all Canadian coastal waters, and that the potential of natural resources in offshore areas should be considered prior to the designation of new marine protected areas.
New Democratic Party
The New Democrats are Canada’s third party, led by Singh. They held 39 seats in parliament when the election was called.
Since 2015, the NDP has been appearing in the news mainly in relation to a schism between its federal and Albertan wings. The federal party, under Singh, opposed the Liberal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, while the Alberta NDP under Notley supported its construction and was talking up federal approval all the way up to her defeat in the Alberta election this past April.
The federal NDP is leaning hard into a carbon-neutral energy message, saying in its “Commitments” document online that Canada has huge renewable energy potential, and decrying the purchase of Trans Mountain as wasteful of taxpayer dollars. The party is also committed to eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and giving communities more say on energy decisions.
In addition to that, the NDP says that it will work to ensure projects will “align with our emissions reductions targets, respect Indigenous rights and create good jobs here in Canada.”
The NDP’s platform regarding natural resources is one that revolves around environmental protection, with the resources industry only mentioned in its set of commitments in that context.
Green Party of Canada
No prizes for guessing what the Green Party’s stance on environmentalism is.
Led by Elizabeth May since 2006, the Greens have two seats in Canada’s parliament and have also made a point of criticizing the Liberal government’s purchasing of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
On its platform, the party is committed to opposing all new pipelines as well as new coal, oil and gas drilling both on and offshore.
On existing fossil fuel operations, the party says it will support their continued operation “on a declining basis, with bitumen production phased out between 2030 and 2035.”
The party platform outright bans fracking and proposes the cancelation of the Trans Mountain pipeline, with the cost of the pipeline to be redirected towards a renewable energy transition.
As part of the transition, the party wants to implement a ramp up of renewable energy with a target of 100 percent renewables by 2030 — including remote and northern communities, which are currently dependent on diesel generators.
On green technologies, the party says, “(The Green Party) wants to support the transition of the mining sector to an innovation hub for greener technologies, commercialized and attractive to export markets, including C$40 million for the proposed Sudbury-based mining innovation cluster.”
The Bloc Québécois is specific to Quebec, but the Eastern Canadian province is rich in minerals, so we’ll take a look at their policies as well.
The party has limited representation, holding only 10 of Quebec’s 78 seats in Ottawa, but it has held as many as 54 in the past. The Liberals are currently the largest party in the province, with 40 seats, though polling appears to point towards a return of the Bloc as a major player in the province.
The Bloc is pro-Quebec independence and Francophone, so policies are geared towards Quebec nationalism and left-wing politics.
Among its policies, the party is avowedly environmentalist and has policies that oppose federal power over land use. According to the party platform (in French), the Bloc “will redraft a bill giving the Quebec government the power on whether or not to accept projects under federal jurisdiction that relate to land-use planning and Environmental protection.”
The party platform reads like a national document for Quebec alone, which makes sense given that the Bloc is a sovereignties party, but it takes plenty of shots at Ottawa, which it calls an “oil state.”
The party wants the government in Ottawa to fight against climate change through taxation, and dismisses the current form of carbon tax as an ineffective tool, instead proposing a system of “green equalization.”
That system would involve applying carbon taxes in provinces with greenhouse gas emissions that are above the median, and pay the proceeds of those taxes to provinces with emissions below the median.
Such a policy would no doubt see taxes slapped on Alberta (the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Canada) — meaning even a Quebec-specific party operating in a province with no oil production has policies that bring the discussion back to oil and pipelines.
Canada goes to the polls on October 21, and the party with the most seats in parliament will likely hold power for another four years.
A lot can happen in four years — the last time Canada voted, Barack Obama was US president, the UK hadn’t yet voted for Brexit and China was still regarded as an abundant source of money rather than the apparent cause of all the west’s problems (at least according to current US President Donald Trump).
Canada will likely remain an appealing jurisdiction for the resources industry regardless of who is the next prime minister — even Maxime Bernier — as Canadian provinces have stayed high in global rankings, even if red tape might slow processes.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.