Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says he has big plans for Canada’s energy sector that go far beyond building the TransMountain pipeline and ending the federal carbon tax.
Scheer stopped in Saskatoon-West on Saturday to campaign in one of the few Saskatchewan ridings his party doesn’t hold. While there, he announced plans for a new National Energy Corridor, which the Conservatives say will create jobs, lower costs and minimize environmental impacts.
“(It’s) a vision for this country that will bring our country closer together, that will get Western Canadian energy into Eastern Canadian markets, displacing foreign oil coming into the Eastern parts of our country,” Scheer said to the cheers of supporters who packed into the Saskatoon Farmers Market to hear him speak. “We know that will benefit every Canadian. Every region, every province, will benefit.”
“We know that Indigenous communities will benefit from that as well when they’re able to sign partnership agreements and they can be full partners in economic growth in this country,” he added. “We’re going to do that by getting the consultations up front, but we’re also going to fix aspects of the approvals process.”
The corridor will be used to send oil, gas, hydroelectricity, and telecommunications across the country, according to a backgrounder released on Saturday. The Conservatives haven’t decided on details around provincial partnerships and Indigenous consultation and have yet to pick a potential route for the project.
They’re appointing a “blue-ribbon task force” to look into those and other issues, with recommendations expected back within six months. Foreign funded groups would be excluded from the approvals process.
Scheer told supporters that Liberal policies like Bill C-69 have reduced investment in Canada’s resource sector, which has led to lost jobs and opportunities. He accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being “embarrassed” by Canada’s oil and gas sector, and promised that a Conservative government would embrace it.
“I will be a champion for our energy sector,” he said to another round of applause. “We’re going to get pipelines built again in this country by phasing out the Liberal government.”
The oil and gas sector was the most common topic of Scheer’s roughly 12-minute speech. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was second.
The Conservative leader never mentioned the blackface or SNC-Lavalin scandals by name. Instead, he took aim at Trudeau’s lifestyle, telling supporters the Prime Minister doesn’t care about deficits because he “has never had to worry about money.”
“Wealthy millionaire Liberals like Justin Trudeau might not mind paying higher gas prices thanks to his carbon tax, but hardworking Canadian families do mind,” Scheer said. “It does hurt their bottom line, and that’s why we’re going to cancel the carbon tax.”
Other topics included agricultural exports, tax cuts, and balanced budgets. Scheer said a new Conservative government would stand up for Saskatchewan producers who have been shut out of foreign markets, and vowed to lower the first income tax bracket, while also introducing a number of targeted tax cuts aimed at items like home heating bills and maternity leave benefits.
Scheer’s short speech went over well with supporters in attendance, many of which sported green and white Saskatchewan Roughriders gear, along with signs for the four local Conservative candidates in attendance.
Laurianne Gabruch, one of many Conservative supporters in attendance, said she was already committed to voting for the party. Scheer’s speech only cemented that view.
“I don’t think he runs away from problems,” she said when asked about Scheer. “He’s open to hearing and participating and being active.”
Gabruch said she’s concerned about Canada’s economy heading into this election. She’s also worried about immigration, and that the federal government is spending too much money on foreign aid while there are still problems that need fixing at home.
“It’s about where our dollars are spent,” she explained.