The chief executive officer of Birchcliff Energy is shocked that Canada hasn’t taken advantage of the “thousands and thousands” of jobs that could come from liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Western Canada.  

“There is no doubt that having LNG built in Western Canada would really help the price of natural gas,” Jeff Tonken, president and CEO of the Calgary-based oil and gas company, told BNN in an interview Thursday.

“I cannot believe that Canadians aren’t interested in the thousands and thousands of jobs associated with LNG and the revenues associated with that, which would help pay all of the economic, health, and education issues that we have in this country,” he added.

Tonken said Canada is at a disadvantage while several LNG projects are being built south of the border.

“LNG has high growth — Canopy Growth-type growth — in the U.S. and Canadians are just watching that,” he said, in reference to Canada’s largest licensed cannabis producer whose market capitalization has ballooned to more than $5 billion amid investor excitement leading up to recreational cannabis legalization in this country.  

The prospect of LNG projects in Canada has been met with criticism from environmentalists, including British Columbia Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, who fear LNG could increase greenhouse gas emissions. Weaver was outraged after B.C. Premier John Horgan touted Canadian LNG on a recent trade mission to Asia.

“It is just unrealistic and folly to promise on the one hand, we’re going to be leaders in climate change and greenhouse gas reduction, and on the other we’re going to build LNG capacity,” he told BNN in an interview last month.  

To the environmentalists, Tonken says sending liquefied natural gas to places like China could serve to improve air quality.

“We’re very much interested in sending our LNG, or our clean natural gas, to China so that we can reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions that they create there,” he said. “And that would really help that country – and that would really help the world’s air.”

But Tonken says there’s a need for more leadership from both the B.C. and federal governments to reduce costs so Canada can be competitive with U.S. LNG projects.  

“We really need to show some leadership in this area,” he said.