Let’s try to have a sensible conversation about Teck, shall we?
On Sunday, Feb 23, 2020 Teck Resources Ltd pulled its application for the Frontier oil sands project. The federal government was supposed to give Frontier the green light, or not, on Tuesday.
Jason Kenney blames the feds, saying “It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.”
And here’s where it gets sticky.
Kenney’s press releases
The Kenney government issued two press releases about Teck’s withdrawal of the Frontier project. The first press release was issued at 7:40 p.m. It said “The timing of [Teck’s] decision was not a coincidence: Teck’s allusion to ‘public safety’ concerns makes that clear.”
The second press release issued at 8:03 p.m. corrected the first press release by deleting the reference to “Teck’s allusion to public safety concerns.”
Which is a good thing because Teck made no such allusions, in fact the opposite is true. In Teck’s letter to the federal environment minister, Teck’s CEO Don Lindsay says “I want to make clear that we are not merely shying away from controversy. The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are prepared to face that sort of opposition.”
Kenney can say whatever he wants about the “militant minority” and concerns about public safety; but know this: Teck’s CEO would disagree with Kenney’s position that Justin Trudeau’s so-called failure to slap down a “militant minority” had anything to do with its decision to withdraw its application.
So why did Teck pull out?
In his letter to the federal environment minister, Teck’s CEO makes it clear that bigger issues are at stake.
He said global capital markets, investors, and customers are looking for jurisdictions that reconcile resource development and climate change; and Teck didn’t find that here.
He reiterated Teck’s deep belief in the need to address climate change and expressed strong support for the federal carbon tax (the one Kenney’s government is fighting in the courts) and legislated caps for oil sands emissions (the ones introduced by Rachel Notley which now require the UCP government to enforce by passing regulations).
The Teck letter sends two important messages: (1) Canada, the provinces and Indigenous governments must work through the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights and (2) Canada will not realize its potential as a responsible supplier of natural resources “until governments reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.”
The bottom line in Teck’s letter is loud and clear, jurisdictions that fail to address the impact of climate change in the context of resource development will be left in the dust and the way to address such impacts is by the federal, provincial and Indigenous governments working together to find solutions.
Pointing the finger of blame and making up stories about why Teck withdrew its application is counterproductive and runs against the advice given by Teck’s CEO who said Canadians need a “larger and more positive discussion of the path forward” or it will be very difficult to attract domestic or foreign investment.
Over to you Mr Kenney.