Canada will continue to produce oil and ship it across the country whether or not new pipelines are built, the Minister of Natural Resources says.
Building pipelines just means it can be shipped more safely, Jim Carr says in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.
Next week, Mr. Carr will play host to a major conference in Winnipeg looking at how Canada can and will adjust to a low-carbon energy world.
However, he says, even as Canada adapts to that new world, oil resources will be extracted and will continue to be shipped.
Getting more oil to the West Coast so it can be loaded on tankers and sold to China will be better for the country and getting it there on pipelines rather than rail cars is better for everyone, he says.
The federal government's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline is under a legal microscope this week as Indigenous and environmental groups, as well as cities in British Columbia, argue the process was incomplete and failed to take into account the impact the pipeline could have on everything from killer whales to waterways.
The $7.4-billion pipeline project is being built by Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, to more than double the capacity of an existing line between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C.
The federal Liberals gave the green light to the project last fall, after making changes to the review process that Mr. Carr said included more Indigenous engagement.
"We approved it because more than 15,000 jobs will be created," Mr. Carr said. "We approved it because we don't feel comfortable sending 99 per cent of our oil and gas exports to one country: the United States."
Whether there was enough Indigenous engagement is one of the key questions that will be answered by a court case under way in British Columbia. this week.
Mr. Carr said the government remains keen to have the line built. He said the judge will decide whether it can proceed, but the government believed the project was in the national interest when it approved it last fall and still thinks so today.
"Nothing has changed that would alter our judgment on why it was approved," Mr. Carr said.
Next week's Generation Energy conference in Winnipeg will be a key moment in Mr. Carr's tenure as Minister of Natural Resources, as his mandate letter calls for the creation of a national energy strategy. That includes working on energy security and making it easier to produce and transmit cleaner energy across the country.
Mr. Carr said many key policies and solutions in Canada have come from similar conferences. He also said there is no battle between moving to a low-carbon economy and continuing to produce oil in Canada.
"There are examples around the world where the production and distribution of conventional sources go hand in hand with investment in renewable sources of energy and that's happening more and more now in Canada," he said.