Today I released the second of three big ideas that I would like the members of the United Conservative Party to consider.
Market access and building pipelines has been a major issue over the last few years and I believe that it is long past time for Alberta to reach forward and take control of its own destiny.
Alberta loses about $5 per barrel for every day that we do not have access to tidewater for our oil. This amounts to a daily loss of approximately $15 million in revenue to the economy of Alberta. By finding new markets for Alberta products, we can reduce that impact.
There has been a concerted effort to stall development of energy infrastructure in Canada, and the response of the NDP government has been to add carbon taxes and close down coal plants in the hope of achieving “social license” from people and groups that never had any authority to give it.
This plan is not working. The NDP is only punishing Albertans who cannot afford it. They are simply trying to buy the support of Albertans with their own money.
It is imperative that we secure additional access to tidewater; we cannot afford to leave our future to a dithering federal government or anti-oil opponents.
With this sentiment in mind, my second big idea is that Alberta buys a critical piece of infrastructure: the railroad to Churchill, Manitoba, and its port facilities.
Churchill has Canada's only deep-water port facility, and it could be capable of sending 250,000 barrels/day of Alberta oil to global markets so we can secure the premium price. We would re-open and invest in the rail line that closed this summer, re-open the grain export terminal for farmers across the West to use, expand the port facilities to handle the expanded economic activity, and build a pipeline along the railway right of way, which would require servicing and thus give the Port of Churchill its first road access.
In making this investment, we will also see several other economic benefits, including:
- New pipeline and road construction linking northern Manitoba to the rest of Manitoba and Saskatchewan;
- Construction and restoration of the train line;
- New port access for grain and other agricultural exports that have had difficulties getting to market via Vancouver;
- Greater employment and economic growth for our partners in Manitoba;
- Access to export markets for farmers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; as well,
- Churchill also has an important part to play in the economic development of the North, which is seeing greater mining development in Nunavut, Ontario and Quebec.
This would not mark the first time Alberta has shown this type of leadership. We saw this when Premier Lougheed turned off the taps to stop the flow of oil to Eastern Canada during the dark depths of the National Energy Program. This leadership also had the foresight to create the Alberta Oil Sands Research and Technology Authority.
I believe that now is the time to take a cue from Premier Lougheed and make a government-led infrastructure investment in Alberta's future. We are desperate for access to new markets; it is time we take control of our destiny.
As I tour the province meeting party members, I would be very interested in your thoughts on my big ideas.