Preston Manning says environmental protection key to oil exports
By Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News March 7, 2013
OTTAWA — Canada must find a way to export oil to foreign markets but do so in an environmentally responsible manner, says former Reform party leader Preston Manning.
In an exclusive interview with Postmedia News, Manning stressed that the ability of the country to sustain its quality of life hinges, in part, on the strength of the energy sector.
Without a strong energy industry that is contributing to the national economy and pumping tax revenues into government coffers, funding for programs ranging from equalization to medicare could be jeopardized, he said.
At the same time, Manning emphasized that Canada needs to burnish its environmental reputation so that it has more credibility
Manning said that, for instance, the ability of the federal government to eliminate the deficit in a timely fashion is dependent on the growth of the Canadian economy.
“And right now the big worry on that is that it has been the energy sector, to a large extent, that has been the one horse that has been pulling the economic cart out of the slough,” said Manning, a former MP from Calgary.
“With that sector being weakened by this inability to move petroleum to export markets, it’s a big threat to the budget balancing plan.”
Still, Manning said it’s important to remember that there is a root connection between conservative ideology and conservation.
“Living within your means, which is the heart of fiscal conservatism, is actually an ecological concept. You can’t take more out of physical or life systems than you’re prepared to put into them to sustain them,” he said.
“I think if conservatives and private-sector companies and leaders were seen as more positive and proactive on the environmental front they would be dealing with the number one obstacle to developing this infrastructure.”
His comments came as hundreds of conservative-minded people from throughout Canada gather in Ottawa this week for a conference sponsored by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.
They will discuss issues such as the oil patch, social policy, foreign affairs and health care — and hear from former U.S. Republican leadership candidate Ron Paul and former Australian prime minister John Howard.
In the Postmedia News interview, Manning was candid on a range of topics:
* On health care, Canadians say it is one of their top concerns but are frustrated by the lack of action from politicians. Manning predicts the country will eventually head toward a “hybrid” public/private system of insurance and medical care. It won’t mirror the U.S. system, he said, but could resemble those of many other Western nations with parallel systems that are much better than ours.
* On foreign policy, conservatives need to be at the forefront in the world’s new “ideological contest” by arguing the Chinese are wrong in declaring that state-driven capitalism is superior to market-driven capitalism.
* On the political success of Canada’s Conservative party, he said the Tories are the beneficiaries of a “new alignment” between the West and Ontario. He said the party still has more work to do — especially in Quebec and eastern Canada.
“I have always cautioned my Conservative friends: ‘Don’t ever call yourselves the natural governing party.’ There’s an arrogance to that. Nobody’s got a monopoly on the affections of Canadian voters. And I think one of the Achilles heels of the Liberals was to start thinking of themselves like that.”
At the conference which runs from Thursday through Saturday, Manning said the session on energy will deal with the crucial questions of building pipelines to get oil to the west coast, to the U.S. and to eastern Canada.
“How to service those markets and take care of the environmental concerns that go along with it is one of the number one issues facing the country,” he said.
“I think that’s a huge one because it affects virtually everything else.”
Manning said the equalization program — which spreads wealth throughout Canada — would be harmed if there are no “have-provinces” such as Alberta.
And costly provincial health care programs will be unsustainable without current levels of government revenue, he warned.
“Economic recovery and the key dimensions of it, which include a very vigorous energy sector, touches virtually everything else.
“So I’d say that’s a huge issue that needs to be resolved. And it’s a two-pronged one. It’s not just a matter of getting pipelines to these markets. It’s doing it in a way that is environmentally responsible.”
He said conservatives and private-sector companies should move away from their “defensive posture” of saying nothing can be done unless there is an international treaty.
“I think conservatives have to be more positive and proactive on the environmental side,” he said.
“We have to be in a strong position environmentally before we can critique others’ criticisms of our environmental stance.”
One thing I really wish is that Preston Manning had gotten his shot either at being Premier of Alberta or Prime Minister.
Oh, what could have been...http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/nat ... story.html