Pierre Poilievre promises to ban oil from ‘dirty dictators’ within five years of being elected

The bulk of that volume comes from Saudi Arabia, from which Canada imported 73,600 barrels of crude oil per day

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Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre promises to ban all overseas oil imports within five years of being elected prime minister while also removing government red tape he says hampers the construction of a west-to-east pipeline.

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“Buying overseas oil from polluting dictatorships is terrible for our environment. It exports our jobs, our money and our pollution to countries with poor ecological standards,” Poilievre said during a campaign tour in Saint John, NB

“Instead, let us bring home the jobs, money and business to the most environmentally responsible energy sector in the world here in Canada,” the Conservative MP added.

Though the vast majority of Canadian crude oil imports are from the United States, almost a quarter (126,000 barrels per day in 2020) originate from overseas countries, according to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER).

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The bulk of that volume is from Saudi Arabia, from which Canada imported 73,600 barrels of crude oil per day. In 2020, Canada also imported over 23,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Nigeria and 16,000 from Norway.

During his speech, Poilievre said the overseas ban is mostly aimed at countries run by “polluting dictatorships”

“It’s crazy that we live in a country that has these vast resources, that could take money out of the pockets of dirty dictators and put it in the pocket of everyday Canadians, that is more environmentally friendly, and is ethical — and we just don ‘t do it,” Poilievre said.

He also accused the Liberals and the NDP, who reached an agreement this week that could keep Justin Trudeau in power until 2025, of only supporting the oil industry “as long as it is foreign oil.”

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To compensate for the drop in crude oil imports, Poilievre told New Brunswickers he would double Newfoundland’s offshore oil production.

He also promised to remove the red tape that he says prevents companies from developing west-to-east energy pipelines (the “best option”) and facilitate rail transportation project.

Poilievre’s campaign says supporting Newfoundland and Labrador government’s plan to more than double oil production to 650,000 barrels per day from 244,000 will in itself compensate for the drop in overseas imports.

His government would support that increase by repealing Trudeau’s controversial Bill C-69, which forces Canada’s energy regulator to consider the impact on human health, local communities and the environment when evaluating future infrastructure projects.

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He also promises to “quickly” approve “environmentally responsible” expansions of the province’s offshore oil industry, namely by removing “government gatekeepers” — red tape.

A key part of Poilievre’s plan to increase oil production in Atlantic Canada is Irving Oil’s refinery, which imported over half of its crude oil from non-United States sources between 2018 and 2020, according to CER data.

“Irving Oil’s refinery capacity is currently 320,000 barrels per day. Doubling Newfoundland’s production (as planned) would completely displace overseas oil,” Poilievre said, adding that the province’s own projections say production can reach 650,000 barrels daily by 2030.

“That is an enormous amount, and one that would keep gas tanks full and heating prices lower for the whole country.”

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The Conservative MP also reaffirmed his commitment to help move oil from western Canada to the east coast by facilitating a new west-to-east national pipeline.

“We will remove government gatekeepers at home and stop paying dictators abroad. Consumers will know when they fill up their tanks they are providing paycheques for Canadians, not money for despots. Canadians will take back control of their lives in the hardest country on earth,” he said.

Poilievre’s promises come as Canada banned imports of Russian oil products as a sanction against President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine nearly one month ago.

Canada has not imported any crude oil from Russia since 2020, and only three per cent of our crude imports were from there in 2019.

Poilievre also called upon the Liberal government to “immediately” approve the Bay du Nord project, which would use a floating production, storage and offloading vessel to develop an oil field in the Flemish Pass.

Norwegian oil company Equinor is behind the project, which it says can produce up to 200,000 barrels daily.

The Trudeau government has repeatedly delayed a final decision, which needs approval from Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault. A decision is now expected by mid-April.

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