Rosenberg: Energy policy to emerge as top election campaign
The federal government should have done more to get pipelines built and move the country’s oil to international markets, according to Gluskin Sheff + Associates’ Chief Economist David Rosenberg amid the sharper focus on record-low crude prices plaguing Canada’s energy sector.
“I think that, unfortunately, the time has passed because we should have been expanding these pipelines and the government [should have been] exercising its constitutional authority a long time ago,” Rosenberg told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Friday.
Rosenberg’s comments come on the back of recent remarks made by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau on how the Ottawa plans to deal with the oil rout.
“We don’t have any magic bullet to solve for this problem,” Morneau told reporters Thursday.
“What we’re doing is we’re trying to get the right long-term scenario so we can actually have the appropriate way to get our resources to international markets. That’s exactly what we did with the Trans Mountain purchase, we think that’s the best way for us to move forward.”
While Rosenberg agrees there may be no current “magic bullet” to solve Canada’s energy malaise, he describes the lack of movement on the file as a “missed opportunity” for the government to help the country’s oil-and-gas sector move its product to market.
Western Canadian Select has hit record lows, slipping below the US$14 per barrel mark Thursday, although it was trading slightly higher Friday morning. Depressed oil prices led energy industry leaders including Cenovus Energy Inc. chief executive officer Alex Pourbaix to urge government intervention to help the sector become more competitive.
“The problem of a domestic glut of historical proportions, coupled with the fact that global benchmarks have come down, have caused these prices to melt as much as they have over the course of the past few weeks,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg added that he sees energy emerging as one of the top issues in next year’s federal election, which he said is a good thing.
“It will help frame what has to happen in this country – what has to happen in this country is that we need to sell our oil to our foreign customers instead of giving it away for free,” he said.
“The bottom line is really, where is the coherent and cohesive energy policy coming out of Ottawa, beyond the fact that we bought a pipeline and that nothing else is happening.”