OP-ED: FIGHTING FOR ENERGY JOBS
I had one of the most inspiring days of my political life this week in Nisku, Alberta.
I was there as an endless line of trucks rolled through town in a show of support for Alberta’s energy sector. The convoy stretched back almost 22 kilometres, with hundreds of men and women making their voices heard loud and clear. Heading to a townhall meeting to talk to these struggling workers, I got out of my car and walked the rest of the way.
It was emotional. There’s a lot of anger, and it’s justified. People have lost jobs. Families have been broken up. The pain is real, but it’s going unaddressed by Justin Trudeau’s government. That’s why so many hardworking Canadians came out with a single message for Justin Trudeau: They don’t want his handouts. They want to go back to work.
I went to Alberta this week to respond to this impassioned plea for help. I went to look these men and women in the eye, and tell them that we’re with them, and we’re fighting for them. Not just Conservatives, but people from across the country that understand how important our energy sector is to Canada’s economy. They’re not alone.
Everyone in Nisku understood why they were there, and why the situation in Canada’s energy sector is so grim.
Justin Trudeau is trying to phase out their jobs. An industry that has sustained families and given them their livelihood for generations is being shut down by a prime minister who no longer hides his disdain for their work. In just three years, Trudeau has killed two major pipeline projects, and thrown $4.5 billion in taxpayer money into another that he can’t build. Meanwhile, his government’s Bill C-69 will put the energy sector out of business for good by ensuring that no pipeline project will see the light of day – ever again.
The consequences of Trudeau’s disastrous policies are felt most strongly in Alberta but will affect every part of Canada. Our national economy is losing billions of dollars because we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to get our resources to those who want to buy them. Canadian oil is now selling at a major discount, costing us jobs and investment. That is why Alberta’s government took the drastic step of cutting production, and why the ultimate responsibility for that move lies with Justin Trudeau. His pipeline vetoes, carbon taxes and added red tape are the cause of this lack of pipeline capacity, and the dire consequences that have followed.
The prosperity that once flowed from Alberta’s energy sector to communities across our country is a distant memory under Justin Trudeau.
At the same time, all he’s offered suffering workers and their families is a small government handout. That money might feed families for a few weeks, but the pipelines that get Canadian energy to markets will feed us all for a generation.
With Justin Trudeau doubling down on his destructive carbon tax and rejecting every attempt to revive struggling pipeline projects, it is clear that he will never take any meaningful step to offer help.
That’s why I outlined my Conservative plan to get out energy sector back on track. When Conservatives form government we are going to cancel the carbon tax, and repeal Bill C-69. But that’s just our first step. We will also establish firm timelines for pipeline approvals, invoke constitutional authority to build major projects, and eliminate foreign interference in the approvals process.
Justin Trudeau has done historic damage to Canada’s energy sector. And after this week, everyone understands that it’s going to take a change of government to put an end to this crisis and get our energy sector back to work.
Hon. Andrew Scheer
Leader of Canada’s Conservatives
OPINION: Marlin Schmidt on water allocation in the Bow River Basin
The wise allocation of water in Alberta is essential to the sustainable development of an economy that works for all Albertans while preserving our precious natural heritage.
In 2007, Alberta recognized that limits for water allocation in the Bow River basin had been exceeded. No more new allocations of water have been allowed and Albertans have carefully managed the water resources in the basin since then. Fortress Mountain Holdings’ recent application to haul away and sell more than half of the 98 million litres a year it currently has the license to use threatens the careful management of water in the Bow River basin.
The original operators of Fortress Mountain were granted a license in 1968 to use 98 million litres of water per year from a tributary to Galatea Creek to prepare food and provide drinking water to skiers at the resort. The current owners claim that more than half of that allocation is not needed for those purposes and now want permission from Alberta Environment and Parks to haul 50 million litres of water per year away and sell it to the highest bidder. Allowing current license holders to subsidize their business operations with the sale of the unused portions of their licenses moves Alberta further away from the goal of sustainable development and would put the future of our river ecosystems at great risk.
Much has changed in the Bow River basin since 1968 – the demands on the river ecosystem have increased significantly with the twin pressures of population growth and climate change. Re-allocating 50 million litres of water would increase that pressure in a very ecologically sensitive area. It would also set a dangerous precedent for future allocations of water resources. If this application is approved, there’s nothing that will prevent future water license holders from selling their unused water allocations, and while the license holders may profit, our watersheds will pay the price.
Additionally, we must remember that this water allocation would be given priority over all other allocations granted after 1968 under Alberta’s “first-in-time first-in-right water” allocation system. This means that Fortress Mountain would receive priority for this use over a whole host of other users during times of extreme water shortage. Is selling bottled water really a higher priority for the people in the Bow River basin ahead of so many agricultural and municipal water uses? Most Albertans who have talked to me about this issue don’t think so.
Revenues from the sale of the water would apparently fund the goals that the owners have for the development of the resort, including environmentally sound development, living wages for staff, charitable and community activities, as well as reclamation of the site. I support those stated goals, but it should be the skiers who use the resort who pay for those activities. The other Bow River water users and the ecosystem should not be asked to pay for others’ enjoyment of a ski facility.
Alberta Environment and Parks must live up to its mandate of supporting sustainable development now and for future generations. Rejecting Fortress Mountain Holding’s water application would be a step in the right direction.
Environment & Parks Critic
Alberta’s Official NDP Opposition
Red Deer residents are financing the devaluation of their homes.
There are two big issues with Red Deer’s population growth in the last 4 years.
First we are aging. 4 years ago the average age of Red deer residents was 35 years of age. Basically half the population was 35 or under and half are over 35. Now 4 years later the average age is 40 or 39.5 to be precise. So now half of Red Deer’s population is over 40.
Secondly our population increased by 195 residents (00.2%) but we added 1299 new homes. Basically the same number of taxpayers (with the minimal 00.2% increase), are paying taxes on 1299 new homes (3.09% increase).
Along with 1299 new homes, we the lowly taxpayer had to pay for servicing, transit, schools, service centres, roads, sidewalks, sewers, mowing, lighting etc so 1299 new homes could be built.
Now let us look at the 42,034 houses that was there before. There used to 2.4 residents per home now we are down to 2.3 residents per home. 4% decrease. Our taxes went up 10% on these 4 year+ older homes, in 4 years but we have fewer people paying the taxes. The value of our older homes have decreased below inflation, and a realtor told me that houses are selling at about 10% below assessed value.
Supply is out doing demand and we are financing it with our taxes.
Since our median age is increasing, and our population is stagnating means we are losing young families, we are decimating established neighbourhoods and we are financing it.
I think we should rethink this strategy. Let us build things that attract families who will create a demand for new homes. We have enough empty lots and half filled neighbourhoods. We have too many under utilized homes, too many people wanting to but unable to downsize or upsize but can’t afford to sell their homes in this depressed market.
The hardest hit neighbourhoods are north of the river and has been declining for at least 6 years. Perhaps we could build a high school or a new swimming pool to attract people to buy and renovate subsequently revitalizing the neglected older neighbourhoods. No new roads, sewers, transit, fire halls, etc to be built.
What have we spent on new roads and traffic circles lately, was it $135 million or $185 million? Did we top the $200 million? I am not sure exactly, different budgets, but I think it’s around there.
So with poor growth rates, and an over supply of homes, a depressed housing market, it may be time to change course. We have seen our population decrease before while neighbouring communities grew. Time for a re-think?
I believe it is time for a change because I don’t want to continue financing the devaluing of my home and scaring young families away.
How many more years before the average age in Red Deer is fifty?
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