Canadian Federal Election: Party Policy on 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.

Conservative leader Scheer has been campaigning for miners’ support for all of 2019, taking regular aim at the Liberal Party’s Bill C-69, which addresses resource permitting.

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.

Firstly, the Liberals say they will plow all tax revenues (estimated to be C$500 million annually) from the Trans Mountain expansion back into the “clean energy transition.”

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.

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