Premier Brad Wall: Energy industry under ‘existential threat’ … and it’s losing the PR war

Saskatchewan Premier takes shot at ‘profound snobbery’ of Leap Manifesto

By , Postmedia
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall came to the heart of the oilpatch Wednesday to warn that the energy industry is under “existential threat” from climate change and anti-pipeline activists.

In a speech to the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada at the downtown Calgary Petroleum Club, Wall slammed the idea of a national carbon tax and took aim at both the United States government for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and other Canadian provinces for throwing up obstacles to energy transportation projects.

Wall — whom polls have shown is consistently the most popular premier in Canada — said the energy industry needs defenders against “an ever-growing matrix of activists,” citing proponents of the Leap manifesto within the NDP and the divestment movement that calls for companies and public bodies to get rid of their energy holdings.

“Today, there continues an existential threat to this industry, this industry that is so important in my province,” he said.

“We’re in the middle of a battle and frankly we haven’t been winning too many battles. By we, I mean this sector and the resource importance of western Canada.”

Wall said both the oilpatch and governments have to keep making the case about the economic importance of the energy industry in Canada and its commitment to operating in an environmentally-sustainable manner.

He said polls show there is popular support for energy development and pipelines in Canada, meaning that “social licence” for such projects already exists.

Canada’s NDP government has launched a sweeping climate change plan, including a new broad-based carbon tax and an increase to its existing carbon levy on large emitters, in part to win social licence for pipelines that would ship oilsands crude to coastal waters and open new markets.

Wall reiterated his Saskatchewan Party government will not introduce carbon pricing at this point when low energy prices are dragging down both resource industries and the broader Canada economy. The province has repeatedly delayed its own plans for a carbon levy on large emitters

But Wall told reporters he would not criticize any other provincial government for its approach.

“Canada has made their decision. I think the timing for another new national tax, carbon tax or levy of some sort, is just wrong,” he said, comparing the situation to a hypothetical new tax on vehicles being introduced when the auto industry was in turmoil during the economic crisis of 2008-09.

He also praised Premier Rachel Notley for her arguments in favour of pipelines.

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