“The single, largest private sector investment in the history of Canada.”
Those were the words that Prime Minister Trudeau and British Columbia Premier Horgan repeated over and over again when announcing that Canada will finally become an exporter of liquefied natural gas.
Earlier this month, a business consortium of energy giants announced its final investment decision for LNG Canada, a $40-billion project that will help Asia get off coal, and replace it with the world’s cleanest LNG. It will also provide good-paying, family-supporting jobs to thousands of Canadians.
This is a great story for Canada and yet some may have missed it.
On the day of the announcement, it took the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation more than 15 minutes to report the story on its flagship evening news program The National and it dedicated a whopping 96 seconds to it. Apparently that’s what $40 billion of private investment into our country will get you in air time from our public broadcaster.
Of course, there were smiles all around the room at the Oc. 2 announcement. This was most certainly a story Trudeau wanted to brag about considering it’s under his watch that foreign investment in our resource sector has been vanishing at an accelerated pace since he took office.
While Trudeau and Horgan were proud to take credit for this story, I bet deep down inside – at their very core – they were a little displeased that Canada’s oil and gas industry was expanding.
I think it may be valuable to some readers to be reminded of how this megaproject actually came to light.
The idea of liquefied natural gas has been discussed in the province for decades. But it’s in the early 2000s that the issue kicked into high-gear.
Canada was running out of natural gas supply, as were the Americans. In fact, an import LNG facility was approved on BC’s north coast to meet the growing demand to supply our market.
Thanks to the leadership of former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell – who allowed directional drilling and horizontal fracking in the province – huge reserves of natural gas were discovered in Northeast BC. Other regions in North America also found similar deposits. Suddenly, governments were determined to find new export markets for trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.
At first, few believed in that idea. But over time, people started to appreciate the immense potential.
Among those who did not believe in that prospect is the current premier of British Columbia and a number of his cabinet ministers – those same individuals who were all smiles at the announcement.
Not long ago, John Horgan called LNG “an industry that’s going nowhere.”
Horgan’s environment minister has referred to LNG as “pixie dust,” his education minister once said it was “pie in the sky,” and the NDP energy minister said LNG “ain’t good for anybody in this province.”
Isn’t it interesting how a $40-billion investment, thousands of jobs, and billions of revenue dollars from royalties and taxes for our social programs can change someone’s mind?
Of course, Horgan was more than happy to consider this massive investment his own achievement. Don’t be fooled: LNG is not the brainchild of the NDP. He may have helped bring the project to the finish line, but all the heavy-lifting was done prior to his premiership.
As you can see, it’s often very eye-opening to review our history once in a while to better understand where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
I tip my hat to former premiers Campbell and Clark for their leadership on this file. They have every reason to be proud and celebrate LNG Canada’s recent announcement.
For my hometown of Fort St. John, for my region, my province and, indeed, my country, this has been the best news we’ve had in a while.
The Honourable Richard Neufeld is a Senator for British Columbia. He is a member of three Senate Committees: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; National Finance; and Arctic. Prior to his appointment to the Senate in 2009, he served in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly from 1991 to 2008 as MLA for Peace River North. He was Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources from 2001 to 2009.