The chief executive of one of the largest midstream oil and gas operators in Canada says the country’s reputation as a destination for investment capital is taking a beating.

“Canada is not looked upon as a good place to invest when it comes to oil and gas these days,” David Smith, president and CEO of Keyera, told BNN in an interview Monday.  

“I think U.S. investors are particularly negative about Canada these days, partly because the U.S. environment is quite positive.”  

The comments come after another potential blow to the Canadian energy industry, as Kinder Morgan Canada put its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on ice Sunday.

The company announced it is suspending “non-essential” spending on the $7.4-billion project amid ongoing opposition from the British Columbia government, setting a May 31 deadline to keep the project alive as it seeks “clarity” on its ability to do construction and protect its shareholders.

Smith said British Columbia in particular has been a good place to invest until now, as recent policies have made it difficult for the country’s energy sector to compete. However, he admits the blame shouldn’t rest solely on governments’ shoulders.

“As an industry, I think we need to do a better job explaining what we do, and the value of what we provide – not just to the Canadian economy, but to the progress that we’re making globally toward a better environment,” he said.

“I think that Ottawa is saying the right things, I just hope that we see the continued willpower to continue along the path that they’re on.”

One of the keys, Smith said, for the Canadian oil and gas industry to stay competitive is to have access to markets other than the U.S.

“If we don’t have access to markets other than the U.S., we’re going to be captive to a market that is going to need our oil and gas, and other products, less and less,” he said.    

“We need to be thinking about market access, we need to be thinking about competitiveness, we need to be making sure we’re not layering on additional costs that make it more difficult for us to compete. ”