question period — Environment and Climate Change

Liquefied Natural Gas

December 12, 2019


Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
[16:06]

Honourable senators, my question is also for the Government Leader in the Senate.

Senator Harder, one of the first questions I asked you in Question Period in 2016 concerned liquefied natural gas, which is of tremendous significance to my province of British Columbia. I will return to this topic today as my final question to you as Government Leader in the Senate.

In recent comments to the Globe and Mail, the new Minister of Environment, Jonathan Wilkinson, also a British Columbian, appeared to minimize the importance of LNG in meeting our GHG emission targets. For years now, B.C. governments of varying political stripes have argued our LNG exports will help to reduce the use of coal in Asia, thereby reducing global emissions.

Honourable senator, why is your government downplaying the importance of LNG now, when a year ago you were boasting about giving approval to the LNG Canada project in Kitimat? What has changed?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate)
[16:07]

I thank the honourable senator for her question. The government, of course, and I think all Canadians are very proud of the approximately $42-billion investment represented in the Kitimat project. It is certainly our hope that is not the first and last of the major investments in the LNG sector. There is value in the LNG export in and of itself. What is under discussion, of course, in the international multilateral dialogue on climate change is how credits with respect to lowering carbon intensity are distributed, and those are continuing.

[16:07]

Yesterday we learned that Chevron is going to sell its entire 50 per cent stake in the Kitimat LNG project, which plunges this major project into great uncertainty. Senator Harder, how much do Minister Wilkinson’s words affect the strength of our LNG industry and the likelihood that other LNG projects will be approved by this government?

Senator Harder
[16:08]

The honourable senator will know that the government is very attentive to new projects, and there are procedures under way and processes in place to deal with those. I won’t comment on that, except to say that the minister responsible is very alert to the potential investments.

There will be changes in structures and ownership in various aspects of the energy sector. That’s the way of life in the private sector. What is important for Canada is that those investments come to fruition, that they are seen by their shareholders as successful, and that is done best when we all, in the political class if I can put it that way, remind global investors of how secure and positive an investment destination the Canadian marketplace is.