By Ian Croft
Martin Shields raised concerns about natural resources and COVID-19 vaccination during recent adjournment proceedings in the House of Commons.
On Dec. 1 Shields, MP of Bow River, rose in the House to discuss how coal and oil industries are still necessary to help support alternative energy sources such as wind.
“I appreciate the opportunity to participate tonight. We have heard the term for centuries of ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’. Sometimes it has been used in a negative way, but in Canada we are phenomenal at it. That is our resource industry. We are experts at it. We are respected around the world for the technologies we have developed in this industry.”
“I know my Liberal colleague will tell me how much Liberals have supported the resource sector, but I have visited with alternative energy sectors in my riding. We have had wind turbines for decades in my riding. We are into the second and third generation of them. The biggest solar farm in Canada is being built in my riding. If we visit those we will find that it takes 200 great Canadian coal to make one blade for a windmill. If we look at the components for solar, the metal, the plastic, it does not work without the resource industry in oil and gas to make those.”
“The resource sector is a great one to provide energy, but the other industries are complementary to it. For decades we will be using the resource industry in our country. When we have a trillion dollars of debt, unemployment and an economy that has slowed down because of COVID- 19, it is the resource sector that can drive this economy back to where we need to be.”
“The energy sector is also the largest employer of Indigenous people in this country, businesses and workers. The simple fact is that we will continue to need the fossil fuel industry in the future, for decades to come.”
“Speaking of hewers of wood and drawers of water, we have another phenomenal industry called the agricultural industry. Agriculture is an essential industry with essential workers. As the Minister of Agriculture told me at committee, to the federal government and the provinces, it is an essential industry. When it comes to vaccinations, let us hope the government understands that these are essential workers in this industry, which provides us food security and is able to produce food that is distributed to the world to feed people, and that these workers in the agricultural industry are considered essential for vaccination, if they so choose.”
“Another part of the agricultural industry is broadband. Part of the challenge is that the Liberals have not quite understood a couple of things about broadband. Yes, they want to move it up. They want to do it sooner, but they keep talking about the last community, whether it was in the east, north or central Canada. That is not the community for agriculture. It is the farm gate. The farm gate may be only a few kilometres out of town, but our agricultural industry is the most advanced in the world. The technology it is using is incredible, and 50 down and 10 up is a minimum for our agricultural industry. The Liberal government does not understand that it needs to get this for the agricultural industry.”
“All of those things in the resource sector are important to make our economy work.”
Kevin Lamoureux, government house leader, responded to Shields and said:
“Coming from the prairies, I am very familiar with many of the issues facing our prairies, our commodities, our farms and our wonderful natural resources.”
“The member opposite talked about wind power and some difficult issues he might be having with that. Being from Manitoba, I would think of hydro power and the benefits of that.”
“We have not forgotten other natural resources. The TMX project is probably a good example. Today, well over 5,000 Canadians are working on the TMX project, a project which recognizes how important the industry continues to be.”
“The difference is that we recognize the importance of having balance with respect to development, that we need to take into consideration our environment. Canadians expect us to do this and this Liberal government will do that. We recognize the importance of consultations, in particular with Indigenous community members and the important role they play. Other stakeholders who have a vested interest also need to be heard.”
“We recognize the need for the establishment of a process. Through that process and those extra considerations, we could provide a path into the future so companies would be able to invest with that much more certainty. That is really important when we talk about natural resource development into the future.”
“The best example I can provide offhand is the TMX, because of the number of jobs and the sense of commitment. It is being done right.”
“On a side note, it is interesting to contrast, the Conservatives are trying to give a false impression about how effective the government has been in the province of Alberta. The Government of Canada has been there, working with Alberta, Albertans and different stakeholders, even during this difficult time of the pandemic. We are literally seeing thousands of oil industry jobs being supported through wage loss subsidies for those who have been unable to go back. Tens of thousands of individuals have been supported through the CERB program.”
“Whether it is Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan, we recognize the critical role the Prairies play going forward. One only needs to look at the wide spectrum of commodities and the demand for them around the world, because of the quality of our product and our natural resources.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the member’s comments. As someone who has lived in all three of our prairie provinces, I genuinely and truly see their value. The government also recognizes their value. The actions the government has taken to date support those critical industries. It is indeed in the best interests of all Canada when we do so.”
Shields then clarified himself stating.
“I think the member misunderstood me. We are decades into wind turbines. We have been around for a long time on that. We led the world on that a long time ago. We have no problem with that. It is just complementary.”
Before expressing his concern with potential violations of certain rights and freedoms that members of his constituents he is experiencing.
“There is a couple of rights that we need to pay attention today. First is the freedom of speech. The Western Standard in my riding has gotten into difficulty with the CBC. The government broadcaster is threatening legal action against that publication. This is wrong. We need freedom of speech, especially in these times.”
“It is not right of the CBC to take legal action against the Western Standard. We need freedom of speech. Also, the freedom to exercise religion safely and peacefully in a fundamental way is a right of every Canadian.”
“Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are important. We need to protect those rights, especially during COVID-19.”
The Western Standard got into blows with the CBC after they used the CBC’s logo in an ad declaring them as fake news while they encouraged individuals to read their own web publications. When the CBC move to take legal action the Western Standard declared that they were exercising fair dealing with the CBC’s logo. <as criticism of the CBC.>
Lamoureux then responded back to Shields comment.
“I am sure that my friend from across the way can appreciate the notion that we have a government, and in fact a political party as an institution, that genuinely believes in freedom of speech. After all, it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who brought in Canada’s Charter of Rights. I appreciate the comments the member made, but I encourage him to look at the larger picture and how not only this government, but other governments have been there to ensure that freedom of speech and many of its issues are respected in Canada.”