News / Edmonton

'The urgency is now': CAPP says oil industry falling behind due to red tape

British Columbia's proposal to impose new restrictions on the already-approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain profile sends the "wrong message", some say

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Omar Mosleh / Metro

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Canada's largest oil and gas industry group has a message for the politicians currently bickering over pipelines — stop it.

The head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers told media in Edmonton Wednesday that British Columbia’s attempt to put new restrictions on the Trans Mountain pipeline is an example of political roadblocks preventing Canada from becoming a world leader in supplying oil and gas.

CAPP president and CEO Tim McMillan criticized the government of B.C. for announcing they would restrict increases in bitumen shipments from Alberta--which prompted Premier Rachel Notley to ban imports of B.C. wine.

“They politicized the issue and that’s where we take exception to their actions,” McMillan said at a presentation hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

“If they do ultimately do something that’s unconstitutional, I think the repercussions there will be substantial.”

While he praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for making it clear that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline -- which B.C’s government opposes -- would get built, he said words are not enough.

"There are incredible opportunities in front of us, we just need to grasp them," McMillan said. "I think the onus is on us at times to continue to communicate the challenges and opportunities."

McMillan said Canada is falling behind countries like the United States in getting its products to market due to a lack of pipelines to tidewater, excessive government red tape and the inability to refine our goods here at home.

“We’re not sending a consistent message to the world that Canada can get things done … We need to be that supplier of choice,” McMillan said.

"The urgency is now. We need action,” he added.

Janet Riopel, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, said the ban on B.C. wine imports is regrettable because it will further hurt businesses in an already tough economic environment.

But she said the chamber supports the province’s decision.

“Do we support boycotting business? No, we do not. But what choice are we faced with right now? If the federal government isn’t going to defend this project, someone has to,” Riopel said.

She worries international stakeholders will see the pipeline dispute and pull back from investing in Canada because of a lack of confidence in the government sticking to its guns when it comes to oil and gas projects.

“What B.C. is doing is sending wrong messages to our investors,” she said. “I think it’s unfortunate we’ve been backed into a corner and have to resort to the action that we have.”

If it’s not enough that political red tape is preventing the oil and gas industry in Canada from meeting its full potential, the United States is going in the complete opposite direction, McMillan said.

President Donald Trump has changed tax regulations to make it easier for companies to write off capital costs, and has also eased red tape.

“It has changed the game from we’re losing 100 to one to we’re not even in the game … we have so much work to do to make ourselves competitive,” McMillan said.

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