Trudeau government says NAFTA renegotiation would benefit oil & gas sector

Brent Patterson
4 years ago

Natural Resources minister Jim Carr says the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would benefit the energy sector.

Reuters reports, "Asked whether the energy industry could get a more favorable role than other parts of the economy in NAFTA renegotiations, Carr said, 'I think that's a real possibility'."

It then notes, "Carr told reporters that Canada will continue to make the case that the integration of the energy sector is in the best interest of all three governments. 'I think the energy sector is one of those where the integration argument and the mutual benefit can be well advanced by Canada', said Carr."

And it adds, "Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed orders to clear the way for TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline to be built, which would ship crude from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf. Carr said that was a case where 'what's good for one country is good for the other'."

We couldn't disagree more.

In January 2017, Canadian crude oil exports to the United States reached 3.4 million barrels a day. Adding to this, the Trudeau government has now approved the 760,000 barrel per day Enbridge Line 3 pipeline to Wisconsin and backs the 830,000 barrel per day TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to Texas.

Beyond the fact that these pipelines mean a continued expansion of the tar sands, cross waterways and sources of drinking water, and cross Indigenous lands and territories without adequate consultation and consent, they also have trade implications because of the energy proportionality provision in NAFTA.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, "NAFTA places strict limits on the ability of our government to curtail energy exports in times of Canadian need or for environmental purposes. The deal says that Canada must maintain at least the same level of oil and gas exports to the United States as it had supplied for the past thirty-six months. Only if Canadian consumption is cut proportionately, and then only in times of crisis, could the Canadian government claim jurisdiction over its own energy resources."

This provision means that Canada could not, as author-activist Gordon Laxer has recommended, end oil exports to the United States, phase out the tar sands by 2040, and rely on conventional oil as a transition strategy until 2050 when we would then be able to fully rely on renewable energy.

Barlow has tweeted, "NAFTA renegotiation must end the proportionality clause of the energy sector to meet our Paris climate commitments."

To tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the NAFTA renegotiaton cannot be another backroom deal and that he should remove the energy proportionality clause from the deal, please go to this online action alert now.

It's urgent. Trudeau is expected to meet with Trump at the White House in late-February. The Mexican minister of the economy has stated that NAFTA negotiations will begin in early-May, but Trump has stated that he wants the talks to begin sooner than that. A 'Three Amigos' North American Leaders Summit is also expected to take place in the coming months.