During an announcement in Calgary yesterday, Stephen Harper announced his party’s intention to limit the export of bitumen, a product which makes up a significant amount of petroleum-based exports for Alberta.
It is Mr. Harper’s intention to place unprecedented restrictions on a natural resource, the control of which is guaranteed to provinces under the Canadian Constitution. The restriction of bitumen exports would also lead to a violation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), placing our trade relationship with the United States in jeopardy at a time of great economic instability.
It seems clear that Mr. Harper, without consultation with the Alberta government or other key stakeholders, is preparing to set policy that will have a significant impact on the ability of Albertans to maximize benefit from one of their own natural resources. From the short-sighted, arbitrary nature of his decision, it would appear that Mr. Harper is so confident of success in this province that he can disregard the best interests of the very people he was elected to represent.
The proposed change would effectively remove the ability of Alberta companies to market bitumen to any country that either does not meet or exceed Canadian government environmental limits on carbon emissions. At the present time, 30 per cent of the bitumen generated is sent to the United States, the only market for the unprocessed product. Given the current economic state of that country, it is critical that Alberta oil companies are able to expand their base and look to new markets for what will become an increasingly higher demand product.
If Albertans want a say in how their resources are managed – as is our right under the constitution – then they must speak up so that Mr. Harper can hear. And the best way of doing so is to elect a Member of Parliament who can ensure that they have a voice in Ottawa, and not someone who is there simply as Ottawa’s voice in their community.
I am committed to providing grassroots representation in Parliament that reflects the priorities and concerns of my constituents throughout Edmonton-Sherwood Park.