QP: Energy East and Barbados

After the Energy East cancellation announcement this morning, you just knew that this would be the fodder for increasingly hysterical denunciations during QP today. Justin Trudeau was present, but Andrew Scheer was not, so it remained to be seen how this would play out.

Lisa Raitt led off instead, mini-lectern on desk, blaming the government for killing Energy East with their ideology. Justin Trudeau responded that it was a business decision, that the project was proposed when oil was $90/barrel and it’s now half that, but that his government had already approved three other pipelines. Raitt accused the government of playing to the interests of countries like Saudi Arabia, and Trudeau shrugged off that suggestion. Raitt then accused him of taking Atlantic Canada for granted with this cancellation. Trudeau countered that they had an Atlantic growth strategy and that it was the previous government that ignored them. Gérard Deltell then took over the condemnation of the loss of Energy East in French, and Trudeau reiterated that conditions have changed, also in French. Deltell then said that Trudeau was responsible for conditions changing, as though Trudeau controls the world price of oil, and Trudeau instead responded about the ways that they have been doing what the market has been asking for, including carbon pricing. Guy Caron was up next, pointing to the recent PBO report on fiscal sustainability, and demanded that healthcare be adequately funded for the provinces. Trudeau touted the investments that they made in mental health and home care. In English, Caron demanded a national strategy for seniors, to which Trudeau listed all of the measures that they have taken. Caron then changed topics to the Phoenix pay system, demanding a refund for it. Trudeau noted that they were working with the public service and the unions to fix the situation, and then there was another round of the same in French.

Round two, and Pierre Poilievre and Maxime Bernier raised the latest twist to the Morneau-Shepell conspiracy theory, being the Barbados subsidiary (Lebouthillier: We are going after tax avoidance; Lightbound: We have listened to Canadians and now we’re going to do things right). Rachel Blaney and Pierre Nantel railed about the Netflix deal (Casey: We are committed to growing the creative industry). Jacques Gourde and Candice Bergen returned to the Morneau-Shepell Barbados conspiracy (Lightbound: We have been listening; Lebouthillier: The trap is closing on tax evaders). Tracey Ramsey and Ruth Ellen Brosseau worried about Supply Management (Freeland: We will protect the dairy sector).

Round three saw questions on the tax proposals affecting family farms, to job losses related to a specific closure, US objections to the Canadian wins under NAFTA, Energy East, tax fairness with respect to big business, the TransMountain expansion, and aluminium from Quebec.

Overall, we didn’t get quite as many hysterical denunciations of the cancellation of Energy East as I had initially assumed, as we had a whole new chapter of the Morneau-Shepell conspiracy theory to proffer, and what I had hoped would be a break in the Morneau-Shepell drinking game didn’t actually take place. I did find it curious that most of the Energy East questions came during the final round of questions rather than the middle round, but what do I know? I’m also not sure that this “Dictator oil” talking point is a real winning talking point because economics being what they are, refineries in Eastern Canada aren’t going to take more expensive Western Canadian oil just because it’s Canadian (were a pipeline be available). It’s a business case that’s pretty unicorn-dependent, and while I get that they think it’s a feel-good talking point, it’s not really based in reality. Basing your attack lines on fantasy can’t be a sustainable approach.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Sherry Romanado for a white collared shirt with a black suit, and to Doug Eyolfson for a dark grey suit with a light purple shirt and darker purple bow tie. Style citations go out to Ramesh Sangha for a powder blue jacket with a light blue patterned shirt, dark grey tie, and khaki slacks, and to Diane Finley for a black blouse with a pussy bow, black slacks, and a loud floral jacket. I would also like to make a formal apology to Alexandra Mendès for previously describing one of her ensembles as yellow and black (thus earning a dishonourable mention), when it was in fact yellow and navy, and she rightly admonished me for daring to assume that she would ever make the cardinal sin of wearing yellow and black. In my defence, sometimes the lights in the House of Commons can distort colours, but the point is noted, and the dishonourable mention withdrawn.

One thought on “QP: Energy East and Barbados

  1. “…as though Trudeau controls the world price of oil…”

    Facile, flippant lines such as this don’t constitute insight and they don’t add anything to the analysis surrounding what caused the death of the Energy East Projects. Rather, they are mere regurgitations of the government’s talking points. The government is quite able to spin its own story on this file without help, I suggest.

    It may be that the price of oil was the sole reason for TransCanada’s decision but it’s worth looking at what TransCanada itself said about it’s decision in its October 5, 2017, letter to the NEB:

    “…There remains substantial uncertainty around the scope, timing and cost associated with the regulatory review of the Projects. There is also the question of jurisdiction that arises from the NEB’s Decision. After completing its careful review of these factors, the existing and likely future delays resulting from the regulatory process, the associated cost implications and the increasingly challenging issues and obstacles facing the Projects, the Applicants will not be proceeding further with the Projects….”

    Given this pretty strong assertion from the company that had billions at stake and (unlike government) has statutory requirements to be truthful in its public filings, it seems to me that it’s not unreasonable to accept the view that the regulatory process was either the villain or the hero — depending on which side of the fence your predilections rest — in killing Energy East, more so that the world price of oil.

Comments are closed.