Brad Wall: Ottawa's actions amount to 'National Energy Program 2.0'
Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Ottawa’s current stance on energy policy is similar to the National Energy Program brought in by Pierre Trudeau, which resulted in regional discord and western alienation and is driving away investment in the sector.
“The cumulative effect has been National Energy Program 2.0,” Wall told BNN in his first television interview since stepping down as Saskatchewan’s Premier in December.
The federal government’s failure to champion pipeline development, impose a carbon tax on the struggling industry and recent changes to the National Energy Board’s pipeline approval process that have “moved the goal lines” are hobbling the sector and driving investment south of the border, he said.
“We’ve seen $30-40 billion in capital flee the energy sector – not for other sectors – but for the U.S.,” Wall said.
Canada’s energy sector should be a point of national pride, yet many federal and provincial political leaders' lack of support for pipelines expansion is destroying the investment climate in the country’s energy sector, he said.
“The lack of our ability to get our product to tidewater – and have more options, and more customers than just the (U.S.) – casts a pall, casts a pretty dim light over the investment climate here,” said Wall.
By contrast, the U.S. appears to be solidly behind its energy producers, he said.
“They don’t seem to have the issues we have [and] neither are they ashamed of the sector. They are proud of moving towards energy independence. Where is that in our country?” Wall said.
Wall also told BNN concerns about national unity and pipelines persist.
“I think there is a real concern between pipelines and all these other issues. I have a concern about national unity still,” he said.
In an interview with BNN in 2016, Wall warned that failure to approve pipelines threatened to divide Canada as provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan grow more frustrated with their inability to get their province’s product to market.
Wall said he supports recent threats by Alberta to cut the flow of oil to British Columbia if that province blocks construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“The province of Alberta has to be prepared to say, ‘this is getting ridiculous,” he said. “If we have to – as a last resort – start turning off a fuel, or bitumen, or oil or whatever is in the pipeline… I think they have to have that as an option. They have to get really serious with this.”