Feds won't export natural gas to Europe but a B.C. company will

Missed opportunity

In August 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Canada to hold a series of meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

As reported by several media sources at the time, Scholz expressed hope Canada, a fellow G-7 member and a NATO ally of Germany, would serve as a supplier of liquefied natural gas. That would replace the natural gas currently imported to Germany from Russia.

As Russia uses the revenue from the sale and export of its natural gas to countries like Germany to finance its illegal war against Ukraine, addressing this issue has become an essential priority for Germany.

Despite that, as was widely reported at the time, Trudeau did not endorse Germany's efforts and stated that, in his view, "there has never been a strong business case" for exporting natural gas from Canada to Europe.

In November, after being rebuffed by Canada, Germany announced a 15-year deal to purchase two million tonnes of liquid natural gas from Qatar.

Apart from the potential loss of jobs and revenue for Canada, there are concerns about Qatar's record on human rights. That includes issues such as basic protections for workers, women's rights, and the criminalization of same-sex consensual acts. Additionally, Qatar lacks environmental protections comparable to Canadian or German standards.

I mention this because last month, a resource company based in British Columbia announced it had signed a supply deal. The deal will ultimately result in the export of British Columbia-produced natural gas to Europe through the United States. Contrary to Trudeau's statement, the company has demonstrated a business case for exporting natural gas to Europe.

Why does this matter? Recent data from Statistics Canada shows the Canadian economy contracted by 1.06% in the third quarter. In contrast, the United States economy grew by 5.2% in the same period (real domestic product GDP). The International Monetary Fund predicts the trend of the Canadian economy underperforming relative to the United States economy will continue.

There is also another alarming statistic from the IMF. Canada's household debt, including loans and debt securities, now stands at 102% of the GDP, making it the highest among the G-7 countries.

Furthermore, the level of overall household debt—loans, and debt securities—is now higher than in countries such as Greece (45%), Italy (42%) and Germany (55%).

Given the high levels of Canadian household debt, it provides some context for why many families face significant financial struggles amidst record-high inflation and Bank of Canada interest rate increases.

This also implies the ability of many Canadians to afford higher income taxes or carbon taxes is greatly restricted.

Despite these factors, the government persists in implementing policies that hinder Canada's economic opportunities and growth (compared to the United States) and imposes higher taxation, which is burdensome for many during this time.

My question this week is:

Is Canada heading in the right direction under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


'Progressive trade' concept pushes Canada's values on other countries says MP

Deciding for themselves

If you closely follow events in Ottawa, you may have heard the Conservative official Opposition recently voted against a revised Canada-Ukraine free-trade agreement.

That raises the question of why I voted against it.

In 2015, the then Stephen Harper-led Conservative government negotiated Canada's first free-trade deal with Ukraine. I strongly supported that free-trade agreement at the time and would still vote in favour of it today.

In September, the current Liberal government announced its plans to update the Canada-Ukraine trade agreement. At that time, Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade of Canada Minister Mary Ng stated, "The new deal maintains existing market access while introducing new clauses related to services, investment, labour standards, and gender equality."

In reality, the revised agreement includes even more progressive language. One example is section 13.10.8 (h), which states, "promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks."

Including carbon pricing in a trade agreement is part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's domestic political agenda. However, I believe it should not be imposed on another country.

Here is what the former Canada-Ukraine agreement stated in section 12.3: "Recognizing the right of each party to set its own environmental priorities, establish its own levels of environmental protection, and adopt or modify its environmental laws and policies accordingly, each party shall strive to ensure that those laws and policies provide for and encourage high levels of environmental protection. Furthermore, each party shall strive to continue improving these laws and policies, as well as the underlying levels of protection."

The previous (and still active) agreement acknowledged the principle that the citizens of Ukraine, through their democratically elected governments, can establish their environmental legislation.

There is also the issue of hypocrisy. While the government is advocating for the implementation of carbon pricing, it recently granted a carbon tax exemption on home heating oil, citing affordability as the justification.
Both the promotion of carbon pricing and the temporary removal of the federal carbon tax on home heating oil were done to further Trudeau's domestic political agenda.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning the Conservatives proposed amendments to the revised Canada-Ukraine free trade deal. Those amendments aimed to increase the availability and supply of Canadian manufactured ammunition. However, the (government) curiously rejected that amendment.

I have always supported trade deals that respect the rights of other democratic countries to determine their priorities and policies. In my opinion, the "progressive trade” concept seeks to impose specific values and priorities from one country onto another, undermining this process.

This week's question is:

Do you agree with Prime Minister Trudeau's attempt to include topics such as the promotion of carbon pricing in a trade agreement with another country? Why or why not?

You can reach me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkamen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Revised forecasts and delayed housing spending in federal 'mini budget'

Fiscal update 'mini budget'

This week in Ottawa, the federal government announced the fall fiscal update.

In recent years, this update has evolved to a mini-budget, where the government makes political announcements about programs and spending.

The spending has once again increased, as evidenced by the numbers. For example, deficits for the fiscal year 2024-25 and the following fiscal year, 2025-26, are expected to be higher than forecasted.

The revised 2024-25 and 2025-26 deficits are now $38.4 billion and $38.3 billion, respectively. The original forecasts were $35.0 billion in 2024-25 and $26.8 billion in 2025-26.

In other words, the original forecast was an attempt to reduce spending. However, as is often the case with this government, spending consistently increases.

What is also interesting is although the budget update mentioned “more housing” multiple times, in reality, a significant portion of this spending that was only announced was for programs that are still years away.

A few examples of that include $15 billion in new loan funding for an apartment construction program. However, that program will not be available until fiscal year 2025-26.

Similarly, there is an additional commitment to allocate $1 billion over three years for what the Liberals call an “affordable housing fund" for non-profit, co-op and public housing. However, that funding will also not begin until the fiscal year 2025-26.

I mention the program implementation dates because the next fixed federal election date is Oct. 25, 2025. Many of these announcements are intended to sound like the government is taking action today. In reality, it will be part of an election budget in an election year.

Apart from the future spending mentioned in this mini-budget, there was no discussion about the impact of that spending on Canadians.

According to a report by Scotiabank last week, approximately 42% of the Bank of Canada's 475 basis point increase is attributed to increased government spending. To clarify, this does not solely refer to federal government spending. It encompasses spending at all levels by government.

Unsurprisingly, the Scotiabank report states, "Overall, our results suggest fiscal policy at all levels of government has been poorly calibrated from an inflation management perspective."

Many Canadians are burdened with mortgage payments or rent they cannot afford. Similarly, there is a comparable situation with lines of credit, credit cards and other loans. And yet, despite the affordability crisis, the government, which recently exempted home heating oil from the federal carbon tax, still intends to quadruple the carbon tax by 2030 on other home heating fuels, such as natural gas and propane.

While the carbon tax in British Columbia is a provincial policy, the current B.C. NDP government intends to continue implementing it.

This week's question is:

Do you agree with Scotiabank's statement suggesting fiscal policy at all levels of government has been poorly calibrated from an inflation management perspective? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or by calling toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Tories, NDP want federal carbon tax cut on all home heating fuels

Push for 'fair' carbon tax cut

In my Nov. 1 column, I discussed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement regarding a temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution (fuel charge) on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect.

I also referenced comments by Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, responding to criticism that the change largely favoured Atlantic Canada (as the majority of those who rely on heating oil live in Atlantic Canada), while other heating choices did not receive the same exemption.

“I can tell you that the Atlantic Caucus was vocal about what they've heard from their constituents, and perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well,” she said.

In response, I received significant disagreement regarding Trudeau's handling of this policy. Many pointed out the apparent unfairness of exempting some Canadians who heat with fossil fuels from paying the federal carbon tax (where applicable), while not providing the same financial relief to others.

A similar debate is currently taking place in British Columbia, where a provincial carbon tax is in place. The official Opposition (BC United) and (other) opposition parties are now advocating for carbon tax relief for affordability reasons—however, the NDP government, which initially opposed the carbon tax in B.C. when it was in opposition, has refused to provide such relief thus far.

In response (to the federal move), Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, introduced a motion requesting the government extend the carbon tax exemption granted to home heating oil to all other forms of home heating in federal carbon tax jurisdictions. Surprisingly, the federal NDP supported the motion from the Conservatives.

However, the Liberals, with the (support) of the Bloc Quebecois, voted against this “common-sense” policy, which would have provided equal financial relief to all Canadians in areas where the federal carbon tax applies.

As an opposition Member of Parliament representing many residents who use natural gas and propane for heating, it is incredibly frustrating to see the government persistently penalize those who rely on these fuels, even though they burn cleaner than home heating oil.

Last week, Jerry DeMarco, the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, released a report indicating the federal government is on track to fail in its goal of reducing carbon emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. In other words, despite causing energy poverty for many Canadians who rely on propane and natural gas for heating (but not home heating oil), its climate plan is not delivering on its promises, as many Liberals claimed it would.

The report further stated, "Canada is the only G-7 country that has not achieved any emissions reductions since 1990."

This indicates that other G-7 countries are performing better than Canada. This is especially significant considering our largest trading partner, the United States, does not have a carbon tax and has outperformed Canada in reducing emissions in recent years.

The response to the report from the federal government, as reported by CBC, was that the commissioner was correct. “There is still work to be done to meet our ambitious but achievable 2030 goal of at least 40 percent emission reductions."

Trudeau has stated only home heating oil will receive a carbon tax break in regions where the federal carbon tax applies. Those who heat with gas or propane will not receive the same tax break and will face increasing carbon tax rates.

This week's question is:

Do you think the prime minister made a mistake by not evenly and fairly applying the carbon tax break on home heating to all Canadians in federal carbon tax jurisdictions? Why or why not?

You can reach me at [email protected] or by calling toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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