Federal Conservative Party leader, and official Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Scheer (right side of platform), was in Courtenay Thursday evening, for a public town hall, co-hosted by the Comox Valley Conservative Associations of Courtenay-Alberni, and North Island-Powell River. Courtenay-Alberni Conservative candidate Byron Horner (left) moderated the event, which was held at the Native Sons Hall. Photo by Terry Farrell

Pipelines, opioids and salmon fishing: A one-on-one with Andrew Scheer

Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer sits down with Black Press Media

Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer was in Courtenay Thursday night, for a public town hall, sponsored by the two Comox Valley Conservative Associations.

Scheer granted Black Press Media a one-on-one Q&A afterwards, to address issues pertinent to British Columbians.

Q – What is your stance on the Trans Mountain Pipeline? Is this project still salvageable, and if not, what are the alternatives?

A-The Conservative Party supports pipelines in general, specifically because we know that the sector employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians. It supports the energy sector, it supports the manufacturing sector, the construction sector, so lots and lots of Canadian families in every province have jobs thanks to our energy sector. Having the ability to get it to markets, and getting oil and gas off of rails makes it safer. So pipelines are something that we support.

It’s not a question of whether it gets built; it’s how it gets built, and how much it costs taxpayers. Before Justin Trudeau was prime minister, pipelines got built by private sector companies, by investors in the free markets making decisions, with a regulatory process that worked … and when there were legitimate concerns raised, we addressed those concerns and ultimately the pipelines could get built. We now have a government that has added new regulatory burdens, has brought in a ban on new pipelines under Bill C69, and has chased away investor confidence.

We now have a situation where an American company is taking Canadian tax dollars to invest in pipelines in the United States, and that’s not a great position to be in. The Conservative government would bring back certainty to the approvals process and promote our sector so that private investment ultimately gets these projects built.

Q – Black Press Media chairman David Black has proposed a bitumen refinery in Kitimat. Is this a feasible alternative to supporting the exporting of dilbit for refining?

A – At the end of the day, if we have a regulatory framework that is predictable, reasonable, and doesn’t have moving goalposts… then those decisions can be made by the market. And if investors have clarity and confidence and they know that they can build something here in Canada, then they should be able to do that. Right now what’s chasing away a lot of investor confidence is the rules keep changing, we have a government that does not support the energy sector at all – in fact Justin Trudeau wants to phase it out. So if there is a business case for building that type of [refinery] then I would say that the role of government is to establish predictability and a straightforward approval process, and then leave it to business leaders to decide whether or not there is a business case for it. Sometimes in Canada there is not a business case, because of government rules, and government regulations, and that’s where the government can play a role – in reducing those regulatory burdens and unnecessary duplications.

Q – Regarding Canada’s reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, from an economic standpoint: A lot of people talk about weaning off our dependency on fossil fuels. What is the reality in that regard?

A – The reality is we are going to be using petroleum products for a long time to come, and Canada should be proud of the role that it can play in providing the world with clean and ethical energy. We have oil extracted in Canada at the highest environmental standards, highest labour standards around the world. We are a country that has the rule of law and equality for men and women, and right now we are purchasing, as a country, oil and gas from countries with abysmal human rights records, with no environmental concerns. So let’s be a world leader in exporting the energy that we do have. As innovations come along, and technical advances come along, there may be alternatives to oil and gas. That’s natural and it’s a natural evolution in human society… but we shouldn’t have a government punishing our sector and taking deliberate steps to suppress our energy sector. That is not what Canadians want. They want to see a government that is proud to promote it and also recognize the advancements within the oil and gas sector in Canada. The operations in Fort McMurray today are much, much cleaner than they were 40 years ago, much less intrusive to the environment, so let’s be proud of that. There are places where oil and gas are taken out of the ground around the world that don’t have any of those sensitivities, whereas we do. We should be proud of that and we should be capitalizing on that.

Q – Let’s discuss the opioid crisis. All indications are this will not be resolved by 2019, and in all likelihood will be worse by then. How will you approach this issue?

A – With two prongs: one, with compassion for the individual user… we need to recognize that there is a human component here. And then with very, very aggressive policies to go after the traffickers… I don’t believe there is enough attention paid to that… We need to recognize that the system has to help people with their addictions, to get into recovery [more quickly], and go after the traffickers; give our law enforcement [agencies] better tools.

When [someone] gets told it’s a six- to eight-month waiting time to get the help they need, well, their resolve might not last six or eight hours. It’s important that when somebody shows that initiative to get off of drugs, that the system can accommodate them right away, because in six or eight months they might be back into a very negative cycle. So more resources on recovery for individuals, and more tools for law enforcement to go after the traffickers. [With] that, I believe, we will see improvements, in a meaningful way.

Q – What is your view on open pen salmon farming?

A – I would make sure that our decisions are based on the most up-to-date science that we possibly have, and part of the reason I am out here is to do some consultations, to hear from people on both sides of this issue. Obviously British Columbia is blessed with a tremendous bounty of salmon, and fishing is a cultural part of society here, but also is a huge economic factor as well. We don’t want to risk that…

I want to do the proper consultations so that when we come out with the framework, we can present it to Canadians and people will know that we have done the homework on the back end. So I will have more to say on that after future visits but right now we are doing a lot of consultations to make sure that decisions are based on actual evidence and actual science.”

Just Posted

Kelowna golf course ready and open for spring business

Two Eagles Golf Course opened Saturday, more to come

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA hopes annual climb will promote peace

MLA Norm Letnick’s 5th Annual Spring Climb for Health & World Peace is April 6

Possible assault to bus driver in Kelowna

A minor bus crash was reported just after 8 p.m. Friday night

Car crash nearly sends car over embankment in West Kelowna

RCMP search for driver of alleged stolen vehicle that caused crash

Update: Highway 3 reopened following rockslide near Keremeos

The slide occurred Friday March 22, at about 8 p.m. between Red Bridge and Standing Rock

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Letter: Stop raising the minimum wage

To the editor: The government is looking for ways to put more… Continue reading

Letter: Immigration will not help other countries, or our own

To the editor: Firearms are not the culprit in all those massive… Continue reading

Letter: Sprawl destroying natural landscape

To the editor: I agree with the assessment by Ian Pooley in… Continue reading

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Most Read