The Trudeau administration is currently developing its Indo-Pacific strategy, and Western Canada is demanding more assurance from them when it comes to increasing energy exports to Asia.
“There are people in Ottawa who understand what our energy mix is, and what it has to be in the future,” said Alberta Trade Minister Rajan Sawhney. “And there are others who are pushing back.”
In November of last year, Minister Joly of Foreign Affairs introduced the federal government’s strategy towards the Indo-Pacific, aiming to increase economic and cultural connections with countries that could counterbalance the growing power of China.
According to Sawhney, the strategy is seen as a positive initial move in Western Canada, and it should address the trade issues of Alberta. The Alberta minister is organizing a meeting to allow provinces to connect and make a powerful pitch to the government in Ottawa to adjust certain sections of the strategy.
At a virtual meeting hosted by the Canada West Foundation, specialists from the Prairie provinces discussed how their area has an unequal amount of commerce with China.
Professor of economics at Carleton University and panellist Meredith Lilly noted a lack of detail in the federal strategy, including a plan for expanding the trade commissioner service or a schedule for providing additional assistance to enterprises looking to expand into the region.
“It was very clear that officials did not actually have a developed work plan for implementation,” she said.
However, she cautioned that Ottawa’s ability to increase its involvement in the area will be slowed by different requests from provinces. She said that the lack of specific plans offers provinces an opportunity to get on the same page and push Ottawa to prioritize certain subjects.
Given the possibility that such measures will make Canadian products more expensive in the international market, Lilly suggested that the Liberals reevaluate several of their environmental policies, such as proposed measures to cap emissions from fertilizer and the extent of federal carbon pricing.
The Business Council of Canada and similar organizations expressed their disapproval of the strategy due to its lack of a promise to supply more energy, such as a guarantee to increase the export of liquefied natural gas to East Asia.
Given the numerous foreign-funded pipeline projects that have been delayed in recent years, this is of the greatest priority, according to Lilly.
“Canada has a damaged reputation in the area of being able to bring promised energy infrastructure to market, and foreign investors are not suddenly going to believe that we can build new infrastructure just because it is carrying fuel sources that the government now supports.”
Sawhney has stated that this issue must be included in the Liberals’ spring budget plan.
“In this budget, I am looking for a more comprehensive statement and support for the energy sector in general,” she added.
According to Sawhney, energy, agri-food expansion, and the need for expanded recognition of foreign credentials and immigration support to fill labour shortages are the three most frequently discussed issues. She also added that the first two had “very little in terms of substance” in the government’s strategy.
She said that while Joly was away on a diplomatic mission, she had a meeting with representatives from Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa and requested that LNG be included in the plan.
“The response was a little bit defensive,” said Sawhney.
“It was more like, ‘Well, we’re really focused on renewables, this is where we’re going and we’re really focused on transition.’ And I said, ‘Look, so is Alberta. We are all aligned; we’re all going in the same direction. But we cannot ignore the reality, which is that there is still a place for oil and gas.”
Original source material for this article taken from here
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