(Check against delivery)
Good morning everyone.
I’m glad to join my western cabinet colleague, Minister Sohi, in discussions with local officials this morning in Fort McMurray about the TMX project.
The TransMountain Pipeline Expansion is a national project of national importance and very much in the national interest.
The Government of Canada has full legal and constitutional jurisdiction in this matter, and we are exercising that authority—as promised—to ensure this project gets done.
To be clear, the TMX was the subject of the most rigorous regulatory review and environmental assessment in Canadian history. It included extensive public consultations, high scientific standards, deep Indigenous engagement, and 157 specific conditions to ensure the project’s integrity.
The Government of Canada approved it on that basis. It was also approved by the Government of British Columbia.
To demonstrate the national interest—constructing TMX is an investment which will help drive economic growth, and sustain some 15,000 well-paying jobs. The contracts for most of the pipe have been awarded on a fully competitive basis to Evraz Steel in my home city of Regina.
Unlike all other pipeline projects approved over the past 12 years, TMX will carry western Canadian resources to tidewater, putting them in offshore export position to benefit from global prices—for the first time ever. This is not only the safest and most efficient means of transporting these resources, it will bring billions of dollars—global dollars—in new economic value into Canada while also augmenting federal and provincial tax revenues.
The national interest is also served by demonstrating that Canada is a place where the constitution is respected, the rule of law applies and big, important things get done—all-in-all, a sound and solid place to invest.
Critically important—This project is going forward in the context of our pan-Canadian framework for dealing with climate change, huge new investments in energy efficiency, cleaner technologies and greener fuels, a new Pipeline Safety Act, the new Indigenous Advisory Monitoring Committee, and Canada’s new $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. All of this underscores the essential link between strong economic policy and strong environmental policy. They go hand-in-hand, again in the national interest.
When a project of this magnitude and value gets stymied by the unreasonable actions of one provincial government—threatening the livelihoods of thousands of people and damaging Canada’s reputation as a trustworthy place to invest—the Government of Canada must step in, and we have.
It’s on an exceptional basis. To guarantee this summer’s construction season for workers and to ensure the TMX is built to completion in a timely fashion, we have reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan to buy, at fair value, the existing TransMountain pipeline, together with the infrastructure related to the TransMountain Expansion Project.
Because these core assets have significant commercial value and future potential, we chose NOT to offer Kinder Morgan a subsidy, but instead to take advantage of a sound business investment opportunity with solid prospects for a real rate of return—for the benefit of all Canadians.
This will not result in long-term federal ownership. At the appropriate time, Canada will seek to transfer the project to new private sector owners in a way that will ensure the project’s construction and operation, while protecting the public interest.
While transactions of this magnitude are always controversial, make no mistake—this is all about securing Canada’s future. And I’m glad to see many business voices being raised in support of this important federal initiative, including the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in my province, and even Premier Moe (if somewhat grudgingly).
Our proactive stance on this issue is consistent with many other aspects of our successful economic strategy over the past two years, and the results are encouraging.
Tax rates for the middle class and for small business have come down.
Wages are beginning to strengthen.
Overall Canadian economic growth is now well ahead of Stephen Harper’s 10-year average. It’s now the best in the G7.
Our federal debt ratio is also the best in the G7 and projected to improve even further year-by-year going forward.
National unemployment is near an all time record low.
More than 620,000 net new jobs have been generated since our government came into office.
Foreign direct investment is up by 5%.
Stock market values are up by 17%.
But we’re not satisfied. We’re not complacent. We’ve made progress. But there’s much more that lies ahead.
We’re investing in the most effective drivers of greater economic growth, jobs and prosperity—like infrastructure, science, innovation, higher learning and skills, trade development … And exceptional projects like TMX.
Past experience in matters of this kind—like Peter Lougheed’s investment in Syncrude and Brian Mulroney’s investment in Hibernia—produced impressive results for Canadians, in the national interest. TMX is of the same calibre.
And we are determined to get it done, starting with the construction season this summer.