Speech – Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference – Halifax, Nova Scotia Monday, July 20, 2015
Speaking notes for
Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister for the Federal Economic
Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Monday, July 20, 2015
Folks it’s wonderful to be here today.
I want to thank the province of Nova Scotia for the incredible job they’ve done in organizing these meetings, obviously raising the bar for Manitoba next year.
I’ll talk very briefly about some of the things that these meetings actually accomplish. It goes without saying that for Canada, our energy and mining sectors need these kinds of discussions, where industry and ministers, who often are not experts in the sectors that they preside over, have to interface.
Here in Nova Scotia, we see the opportunity and the benefits of innovation and technology and new approaches in the extractive sectors:
- Where the province is transitioning from coal to clean and tidal energy;
- Where the Maritime Link will mark a new era in reliable, affordable and renewable power; and
- Where oil and natural gas opportunities hold great promise for the future economic prosperity of Nova Scotia.
Our government recognizes the real potential for our natural resource sectors to create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. And we are proud to be delivering.
Responsible Resource Development
Enhancing the benefits of our extractive sectors and ensuring our energy security begin with our plan for Responsible Resource Development.
These annual meetings have been critical to its ongoing success.
By working together, we have modernized our regulatory review processes through a one-project/one-review approach.
It’s an approach that is eliminating duplication while strengthening environmental protection and Aboriginal engagement.
It’s attracting investors from around the world. It has caught their attention. Colleagues, our shared efforts are working.
In fact, according to our latest national inventory, the total value of all major resource projects underway or planned over the next decade has climbed to over $700 billion — up from $675 billion just 12 months ago.
This increase is particularly re-assuring given the recent challenges — including the decline in oil prices and continued uncertainty in the global economy.
The increase also illustrates how, despite these challenges, our focus on lower taxes and a balanced budget helps encourage the economic certainty and stability needed to attract capital.
Today, I want to highlight the important progress we’ve made since last summer and touch upon three areas vitally important to the future of our energy and mining industries:
- Competitiveness and Productivity;
- Environmental Safety and Performance; and
While we are creating and protecting jobs and opportunities, our continued success is not guaranteed.
Competitiveness and Productivity
Let’s look first at competitiveness and productivity.
A key focus of our plan for Responsible Resource Development has been to get our economic fundamentals right.
We’ve made Canada one of the best countries to do business in by cutting red tape, maintaining fiscal prudence and pursuing new markets through free-trade agreements.
The Canadian economy has posted one of the strongest job-creation records in the G7 since the recovery.
Canada now enjoys the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 nation.
And the tax rate on new business investments has been cut almost in half — from 33 percent to 17.5 percent.
It’s not surprising, then, that Canada’s leapt from sixth place to second in Bloomberg’s ranking of the most attractive destinations for business.
In fact, according to KPMG, our total business tax costs are now the lowest in the G7 — and 46 percent lower than those in the United States.
And our overall tax rate on new business investment is 13 percent lower than the OECD average.
This focus on creating a favourable investment climate has been critical to attracting the capital needed to develop our extractive sector.
It’s also why we’ve modernized our regulatory review of major resource projects to provide investors with beginning-to-end timelines.
But other countries are taking action, too. They are investing heavily and adopting innovative approaches to develop their resources and capitalize on new markets.
That’s why we recently accelerated the capital cost allowance for equipment at liquefied natural gas facilities from eight percent to 30 percent, as well as introducing faster write-downs for their non-residential buildings.
This is a significant incentive for the LNG sector here on the East Coast and in British Columbia.
Indeed, we witnessed the first fruits of our shared labour last month when Pacific NorthWest LNG announced its positive Final Investment Decision. This is a game changer for Canada and the West Coast.
We are taking similar action to sustain Canada’s global leadership in mining.
We’ve extended the 15 percent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for another year to provide junior mining companies with better access to the capital they need to finance exploration.
This measure has helped mining companies raise over $5.7 billion since 2006.
We’ve also expanded the definition of Canadian Exploration Expenses to include the cost of community consultations and environmental studies.
Just last month, we approved Paladin Energy Ltd.’s application for majority ownership to facilitate the development of the Michelin uranium mine in Labrador.
And, in April, Cameco secured a uranium export contract with India worth approximately $330 million that was made possible by our signing of the Canada–India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.
Folks, taken together, these measures are encouraging new investments in the mining sector while supporting exploration, boosting sales and creating jobs.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, it’s that the world wants more of what we have to offer.
Countries want to trade with safe, secure and responsible producers and suppliers. And Canada is a country of choice.
By reducing our tax burden, supporting vital infrastructure, negotiating trade deals and investing in areas such as clean energy and clean technology, we’ve positioned Canada to meet rising global demand and contribute to energy security — at home and abroad.
Indeed, between 2005 and 2014, Canada cut its oil imports by 42 percent — a trend which reflects our government’s strong support for replacing foreign imports with Canada’s own responsible, reliable and secure supply of crude.
And, over that same time, our crude oil exports grew by 81 percent — or almost 1.3 million barrels per day.
In the past two years alone, Canadian crude oil has reached eight new markets, from Spain and France to Chile and Hong Kong.
In Italy, the value of Canadian imports grew almost six-fold between 2013 and 2014, and now account for more than three percent of Italy’s crude oil imports.
And we were pleased the European Parliament accepted a science- and fact-based Fuel Quality Directive this February that confirms the oil sands is as environmentally responsible a source of crude as any other to Europe.
We won’t stop there.
Last January, I proudly participated in the opening of two new pipelines that have doubled access for Canadian crude oil to the U.S. gulf coast.
We learned today that the existing Keystone system in the United States delivered its one-billionth barrel of Canadian and U.S. crude. How ironic it is — contributing to jobs, economic growth and energy security of North America.
As well, Canada is a net exporter of refined petroleum products, producing more finished products than we consume. In fact, we currently rank second in the G7 in terms of refining capacity on a per-capita basis.
Environmental Protection and Performance
Let me talk about environmental performance. This is an area where we must continue to focus our efforts.
If you’re in the business of developing energy you’re in the business of environmental performance. For the federal government simply put no project, no matter how competitive or productive, should proceed unless it’s safe – safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
That’s why our Pipeline Safety Act, passed into law last month, builds on Canada’s world-class safety record for transporting energy.
Between 2008 and 2013, for example, 99.999 percent of the oil and gas moved through Canada’s 73,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipelines arrived safely.
Most countries would find that extraordinary.
But in Canada, we always strive to do even better — which is why our new pipeline safety measures follow the same three key pillars we’ve adopted for marine and rail safety:
- Being prepared and responding swiftly if an incident does occur; and
- Holding companies responsible for harm to people or damage to property or the environment as a result of an incident.
And these same principles guide our new Energy Safety and Security Act, which now governs the offshore petroleum and nuclear energy industries.
Of course, environmental protection isn’t enough without environmental performance.
That’s why Minister Aglukkaq, in advance of the Paris climate talks, announced our intention to reduce GHG emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Last May, US Energy Secretary Moniz, Mexican Energy Secretary Coldwell and I established the North American Energy Ministers’ Working Group on Energy and Climate Change.
This new trilateral supports the implementation of the clean-energy and climate-change goals of each of the three countries, including our respective Paris targets.
By cooperating with our North American partners, we are enhancing energy security and the environment while strengthening jobs and the economy.
Indeed, we have already moved on potent GHG methane from oil and gas, working to align regulations with recently proposed actions in the United States.
Our Paris target for 2030 is in line with other major industrialized countries and reflects Canada’s position as a world leader in clean-energy technology and clean electricity generation.
The provinces have the authority to take action within their own jurisdictions. We will continue to work cooperatively with the provinces and territories on these goals while respecting their jurisdiction.
Indeed, Canada already possesses one of the cleanest electricity mixes. Almost two-thirds of our electricity comes from renewable sources — the highest rate of any G7 nation — and 79 percent comes from non-emitting sources.
Our government’s low-tax plan for jobs and growth has also contributed to Canada’s position as the second fastest growing clean-energy market in the G20. Folks, we should be proud of this stuff, and we should be talking more about it.
We will continue to implement a responsible, sector-by-sector regulatory approach that is aligned with our major economic competitors — such as the United States — to ensure Canada’s economic competitiveness is protected.
Of course, the best energy is the energy we don’t use.
That’s why, since 2006, our government has made significant investments in support of green infrastructure, energy efficiency and new technologies to develop clean energy.
This includes our 2013 commitment of an additional $325 million over eight years for Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies.
All of these things build public confidence in Canada’s ability to develop its resources responsibly.
Third, engagement — this brings me to an area I want to talk about which includes building trust, fostering consensus and delivering results for Canadians and additionally engaging First Nations communities as full participants in all aspects of resource development.
Many of you have heard me talk about this in speeches prior but it’s not just a political priority. It’s a personal one having spent more than eight years of my life living and working in First Nations communities across this country. It’s not just born from a sense of duty or obligation but because of a profound respect for what is right.
That is the purpose of things like the Major Projects Management Office – West, which we opened last summer, and the tripartite energy forum, both of which have helped to bring industry and First Nations communities inside the tent as true partners.
I was in Saint John last month to talk about that city’s efforts to become an energy hub. I draw on some of my nursing observations. There was a palpable enthusiasm in that beautiful city. Everyone converges on the same goal. It was there for everyone to see. That’s the challenge here today in Halifax, not just for us, not just for our senior officials but for all relevant departments and agencies at all levels of government.
Indeed I am proud of our substantive discussions here last year and the extent of work done by our respective governments to see the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act that come into force last month.
I should say personally that I appreciated at every turn the personal and private conversations I had with my ministerial counterparts to move this important piece of legislation forward.
Another example, consider the Green Mining Initiative. Created as a pan-Canadian initiative in 2009, it has significantly improved the mining sector’s environmental performance for extraction, processing and reclamation.
We are promoting the same kind of collaboration with our new five-year commitment of $23 million to stimulate the technological innovation needed to separate and develop rare earth elements and chromite — and it’s well underway with our first technical workshops last month.
Similar convergence is happening in the energy sector.
For example, the 13 largest producers in the oil sands have already combined to develop and share more than 777 distinct new innovations and technologies — at a cost of more than $950 million to develop.
And scientists in laboratories across the country — including NRCan’s CanmetENERGY laboratory in Devon, Alberta — are helping to further reduce energy and water consumption, as well as GHG emissions, in the oil sands.
Thanks to these efforts, GHG emissions per barrel in 2013 were 30 percent below 1990 levels.
The Kearl project is a case in point. Its CO2 emissions are now comparable to those for the average U.S. barrel of refined product.
Folks, our plan for Responsible Resource Development is working because it is specifically designed to support the decisions you make on how to develop your natural resources.
And that’s why this conference is so important.
This meeting — as well as our consistent discussions throughout the year — is essential to strengthening the success of our plan and maximizing the benefits for Canadians and the economy.
We can go right across the country to see the incredible results achieved through our collaboration.
Earlier I mentioned the LNG sector in British Columbia. Our close collaboration with Minister Coleman and the Clark Government has been critical to its early successes. Same thing on the prairies. We’re teaming up with the provinces and industry on hydro power and four major carbon capture and storage projects, one of which Minister Boyd spoke about today.
Notably, two of these are now operational. Carbon capture and storage is the kind of innovative technology that enhances Canada’s leadership as a global, a global resource producer and supplier.
In Ontario, I’ve been working closely with Minister Gravelle on the Ring of Fire including joint support for First Nations plan for an all season 260-kilometre road to access the extensive deposits buried in Northern Ontario.
In Quebec, there’s the Raglan Mine wind energy project, as well as the Canada–Quebec Accord to develop oil and gas resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
And, we’ve supported Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador with a federal loan guarantee to develop the Lower Churchill projects and Maritime Link.
All of these success stories show Canadians that when we collaborate — when our efforts converge — responsible resource development isn’t just an idea. It’s a reality.
Colleagues, let me conclude by saying that Canada has earned its place in the world as a responsible global leader and partner in energy, mining and mineral processing.
We have taken our natural advantage and turned it into new jobs and opportunities through our unique experience and expertise.
By continuing to support your provincial and territorial plans, and by continuing to coordinate our efforts in a spirit of true cooperation, we can build on our mounting successes.
That’s why we are here. Because we have a chance to position Canada to succeed — not just for a year or even a decade, but for generations to come.
I know that you’re all playing an important part in that, and I appreciate it.
For my part, my name is Greg Rickford. I’m the Member of Parliament for the great Kenora riding. It’s a privilege and an honour to serve my constituents and in my capacity as the Minister of Natural Resources to serve you too.