Edmonton Journal

Canada needs to support its energy industry

Regulatory environmen­t is driving away investment, Lisa Baiton writes.

- Lisa Baiton is the president and CEO of the Canadian Associatio­n of Petroleum Producers.

As a Canadian, I'm worried.

Since the latest gross domestic product (GDP) update, much has been written about the six consecutiv­e quarters of our shrinking per-capita performanc­e.

GDP per capita is the most direct measure of a country's living standards and the numbers are confirming what many Canadians are feeling — that Canada is falling behind and things are getting worse.

It should be distressin­g to all Canadians that the Organisati­on for Economic Co-operation and Developmen­t (OECD) is projecting Canada to be the worst-performing economy — dead last — out of all 38 advanced countries over the next 40 years.

All political leaders should be sweating bullets that over the past seven years, Canada's investment growth rate has ranked 44th out of the 47 countries tracked by the OECD. The Bank of Canada has warned that weak productivi­ty and low business investment is a national emergency.

And it's a hard reality that Canada is no longer one of the wealthiest countries in the world as others pass us by. As our competitiv­e economic advantages erode, so do Canadian's living standards and opportunit­ies for future prosperity.

How did Canada so profoundly lose its way? The answer lies within the insular approach to our economy, not taking action when other countries do, and a cumbersome and uncompetit­ive regulatory environmen­t that is stifling the country's most productive industries.

But what is the solution? One of Canada's greatest competitiv­e advantages is our energy. Canada has a worldclass resources base. We are the world's fourth-largest oil producer and the fifth-largest natural gas producer. Our oil reserves are larger than Russia's.

A recent RBC report projected that by 2035 the world will need to add another United States worth of energy just to meet the needs of a growing global population. We have a growing market for our products and the energy industry is a builder of the types of projects that can power an entire economy.

The soon-to-be-operationa­l expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline has employed thousands of Canadians, including over 3,000 Indigenous workers, and spent billions of dollars within our borders. Upon completion, the project will deliver billions more over the next decades by significan­tly increasing the capacity to transport our most valuable export commodity to internatio­nal customers.

The $40-billion LNG Canada natural gas export facility represents the largest private investment in Canadian history. This project will also pay dividends for Canadians for years by exporting some of the lowest-emission liquefied natural gas on the planet, enhancing our GDP and improving Canada's economic prospects.

The opportunit­y is not just in production and export. Investment in decarboniz­ation can ensure Canadian oil and natural gas continues its downward trend on emissions. An organizati­on made up of the country's six largest oilsands companies, Pathways Alliance, just announced it will file its estimated $16.4-billion carbon capture project for regulatory approval.

We have three more LNG export facilities in various stages. In addition, LNG Canada is considerin­g an expansion to double its export capacity. In Alberta alone, there are 25 carbon capture projects under considerat­ion.

But in the current environmen­t, these projects are not a given. For them to happen, we need to tackle the fundamenta­l policy barriers that are driving investment away. The evidence shows we need to urgently reset our regulatory framework to make Canada competitiv­e again for global investment capital.

To build projects, export goods, create jobs and opportunit­ies for a growing population, we need successful and growing businesses. We need government­s to champion major investment opportunit­ies like they do in every other jurisdicti­on around the world.

There is a vision for

Canada, the one the OECD predicts, that Canada is the worst-performing economy out of all 38 advanced countries over the next 40 years. With that comes a host of follow-on devastatin­g consequenc­es for Canadians.

I don't like that vision. Canadians shouldn't settle for last place.

Canada has a choice. Do we continue down this path of driving away the very investment we need to rebuild our flagging economy? Or do we change course and start supporting our largest industries and reclaim our place as one of the world's most prosperous countries?

I know which path I choose.

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