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Jun 13, 2019

Trudeau's energy policies risk fuelling western separatism: Schulich

One-on-one with Seymour Schulich


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One of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs says Canada is “biting the hand that feeds it” with its inability to get pipelines approved for its energy industry.

“If this government doesn’t start to realize where its bread is buttered … even animals learn where their sustenance comes from and they don’t bite the hand that feeds them. This government has been biting the hand that feeds it in an inexorable fashion,” billionaire investor Seymour Schulich told BNN Bloomberg on Thursday.

However, Schulich continues to seek investments in Canadian energy. He told BNN Bloomberg that he “just initiated a big new investment” in MEG Energy Corp. along with a “big investment” in Pengrowth Energy Corporation.

MEG shares (MEG.TO) jumped 12.28 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange, trading at $5.12 as of 3:30 p.m. ET. Pengrowth shares were down two cents - or 3.92 per cent - at $0.49.

Schulich also criticized the federal approval process for the Trans Mountain expansion project and other major infrastructure initiatives, cited an Angus Reid Institute poll from February that found 50 per cent of Albertans polled considered separatism in the province “a real possibility.”

The Montreal-born Schulich said that sentiment was historically high for a Canadian province and should be a real concern for the Trudeau government.

“I’m sincerely worried if they don’t approve [the Trans Mountain expansion] and start to be more conscious of the energy industry’s place in our country, we’re going to fuel separation in Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said.

“When you have 50 per cent of the people being polled saying they would consider such a thing … I lived in Quebec in the troubling times and I don’t remember the polls ever getting that high. They might have gotten very close at the end, but during the process, I don’t ever remember them being that high.”

Schulich also questioned the blame being placed on the energy industry amid the Trudeau government’s aims to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.

“We are 1.5 per cent of the emissions in the world, and the oil sands, which has become the whipping boy for everything, is about one-tenth of that,” he said.

“What are we doing? We’re basically taking an industry that employs 558,000 – it did employ it – and we’ve put up a giant sign [that says] ‘we’re not open for business.’”

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