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PM speaking notes for the annual international gathering of energy industry leaders

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PM speaking notes for the annual international gathering of energy industry leaders


Good evening.

Thank you Dan, for the kind introduction. And thank you all for being here. To the many policy makers and industry leaders here today, thank you.

And, of course, to the organizers of CERAWeek – thank you so much for this award. It truly is an honour – for me personally, for Canada’s superb natural resources minister, Jim Carr, who is here today, and for the government of Canada.

I’d like to begin with a little family history, if I may.

You may have heard that my father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was also Prime Minister of Canada, back in the seventies and early eighties. In 1980, I was in my prime Star Wars years. Nine or so. Politics was not the first thing on my mind.

But that year, my dad’s government introduced a policy called the NEP. The National Energy Program. It lasted until 1985. And it didn’t work. It was a failure. It didn’t mean to be. But it ended up being the wrong policy at the wrong time.

Now, I’m not being disloyal when I say this. It’s just a historical fact. The NEP introduced a level of state control over energy that hurt growth and jobs. It became hugely controversial.

Consequently, when I began my run for leadership in 2012, 30 years later, the Trudeau name was mud in Alberta, still. A Trudeau, it was said, could not get elected dog catcher in Alberta.

But here’s the thing. I understood – we understood – that there is no path to prosperity in Canada that does not include a thriving, vibrant energy sector – both traditional, and renewable. We understood that our resource industries provide thousands of well-paying, middle-class jobs – not just in Alberta, but across Canada and around the world. And, by the way, here in Texas, too.

The Enbridge-Spectra merger, which creates one of the largest energy infrastructure companies on this continent, is only the most recent example of an extraordinarily productive partnership. Last year alone, Texas trade with Canada was worth $35.1-billion US dollars. Texas exports to Canada were worth nearly $20-billion US dollars. Imports from Canada, $15-billion US dollars. That translates into thousands of good, Texan jobs, my friends. By our reckoning, about 460,000. Not bad.  

The ties between our two countries are economic – and also strategic. This is the most successful economic relationship in the world, supporting millions of middle class jobs on both sides of the border. Canada buys more from America than does any other country. We are the number one customer of two thirds of U.S. states – and in the top three for 48 states.  

Nothing is more essential to the U .S. economy than access to a secure, reliable source of energy. Canada is that source. We have the third largest oil reserves in the world, and provide more than 40 per cent of America’s imported crude. And this extends beyond oil: we supply you with more electricity and uranium than any other country, too.

My point is just this: Canadians, cold-weather dwellers that we are, “get” the importance of energy. So, immediately upon launching my leadership campaign, I went to Calgary. I think quite a few people, including quite a few in my own party, thought I was crazy.

But, guess what?  A little over four years later, with a handful of Trudeau Liberals elected across Alberta, we’re on our way  to getting three new pipeline projects under way, which will help connect Canada’s oil patch with energy markets around the world.

The first, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line, will run from Alberta, across the Rockies to the Pacific. The second, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, recently approved by President Trump, will ship Canadian crude to refineries here in Texas. And there’s Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, that also goes south. These ambitious projects will go a long way towards ensuring North American energy security – for years to come.

I make no bones about it: we’re proud of this. It’s progress. It’s important. As I said on that first trip to the oil patch back in 2012: no country would find 173 billion barrels of oil and just leave it in the ground. The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably.

Which brings me to the second piece, equally critical: while developing our resources, for the economic benefit of Canadians, we must also look to the future.

There will come a day, far off but inevitable at some point, when traditional energy sources will no longer be needed. In preparing for that day, we have two critical responsibilities. One is to sustain the planet between now and then, so that we can pass this treasure on to our children – better than we found it. The second is to get ahead of the curve on innovation.

And we in Canada are doing that. Canadian companies are leaders in developing technologies such as carbon capture, next-generation biofuels, advanced batteries for electric cars and cleaner oil-sands extraction processes, among other advances. This creates good jobs. It also helps the planet.

Here’s the crux of it: in Canada, as I said, we know all about preparing for winter and the long, cold nights. When we go camping – and we love to camp, that’s one stereotype that is totally accurate, by the way – we light our campfires before the sun goes down. That doesn’t make us anti-daylight.

It’s a bit the same with energy. Innovating – and pursuing renewables – isn’t somehow in competition with more traditional resources. It’s common sense. It’s wise preparation for the future. Our children and their children deserve no less.

All of which brings me full circle: we would not be on this path – not even close – had we not insisted that environmental protection and resource development go hand in hand. 

In the 21st Century, Canadians will not accept that we have to choose between a healthy planet and a strong economy. People want both. And they can have both. It takes compromise. It takes hard work. But it is possible.

The proof is that, a bit more than a year into our first (hopefully not our last) term of government, we have made progress on pipelines, as I mentioned, but also on a national carbon-reduction plan – which finally puts a price on carbon pollution. This was hammered out in cooperation with our provinces, equivalent to American states. It is a first step and more work needs to be done. But it is a first for our country, after years of false starts.

We could not have moved on pipelines had we not acted on climate. We could not have acted on climate had we not paid due deference to jobs, which is another way of saying, to the needs of the Canadian people – especially the middle class, and those working hard to join it.

And so this is why, my friends, I am so very pleased and honoured to receive this award. We are showing that environmental leadership and economic growth are inseparable. They are one. We are proud of the start we’ve made. And we hope it will become a model elsewhere.

Thank you.