Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he rejects the claim made by leaders with the Green Party and Bloc Quebecois that “oil is dead” and should get no further government support amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trudeau was asked Thursday by by Global News, during a daily press briefing outside Rideau Cottage, about the remarks made on Wednesday by Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, and whether he shared their assessments of the industry.
“I don’t share that assessment,” he said.
“I know that if we are to move forward in transforming our economy towards lower emissions and clean processes, workers and innovators in Alberta and across the country in the energy sector are going to be an essential part of that transition.”
He continued, stressing the industry is an “essential” partner for the transition towards a cleaner economy and rejected calls from May and Blanchet for no further federal support for the struggling sector.
“We need the innovation, the hard work and the vision and the creativity of people working right now in the energy sector,” he said. “We need to support Albertans and other people working in the energy sector through this incredibly difficult time.”
May told reporters on Wednesday that the combination of the pandemic, growing demands for green technology and the recent price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia to drop oil prices to rock-bottom levels in a bid to hurt U.S. interests showed that the industry no longer has viable future prospects.
“My heart bleeds for people who believe the sector is going to come back because it’s not,” she said.
“So basically you’re saying oil is dead?” pressed a reporter.
“Oil is dead,” May responded.
Blanchet also said that while he could understand government wanting to support jobs, he thinks “tar sands won’t be back” and any money coming for the province should be on helping the industry transition into clean technology.
“I would understand, without being very enthusiastic about it, but I would understand if the federal government was to help the oil industry in order to bring it back to where it was before the crisis, because people in Alberta need to get back their jobs,” he said.
“But I do agree with Ms. May that if the oil industry as a whole might not be so dead, I think tar sands are condemned and putting any more money in that business is a very bad idea.”
The remarks prompted a break from what has so far been largely civil virtual proceedings of the House of Commons special committee on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.
One Conservative MP accused May and Blanchet of seeking to “destroy our country” which prompted May to jump in requesting a point of order to defend herself.
This was promptly interrupted by heckling interruptions, though because the proceedings are virtual it was not possible to identify every feed from which voices were shouting.
More to come.