The president and chief executive of Cenovus Energy warns investor confidence in Canada will erode further if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion doesn’t get built.

“Canada really is at a crossroads,” Alex Pourbaix told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Thursday.

“This country has extraordinary oil resources, the third-largest resources in the world, and a track record for responsible development,” Pourbaix said. “And I think right now the international community – and particularly the investment community — is watching.”  

Pourbaix argued investors are looking to see whether Canada can be a “reliable and responsible” global oil producer, pointing to TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway projects as examples of past failures that have chipped away at investor confidence.  

“We have this incredible opportunity, but right now I think investors are on the sidelines,” he said. “If we are not able to get this project done and completed and moving oil, I think investors are going to really question [whether] Canada can be there, not just to deliver oil but any major infrastructure project.”

Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for clarity on the future of its $7.4-billion project amid political uncertainty. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has vowed the Alberta to B.C. expansion project will get built but B.C. Premier John Horgan still actively opposes the project.

However, Pourbaix said it’s not just Trans Mountain that puts Canada’s competitiveness at risk. The federal government should focus on the cumulative impact of its policies, including tax rates and carbon reduction initiatives, he said.

“We have to be very cognizant that our neighbours to the south of us, who are competing [with] us ferociously for every barrel of oil that is going to be sold globally, they are actively moving to take away barriers and to make that industry more efficient,” he said.

“Always consider competitiveness because we are in a very tough global market.”