There are some things Justin Trudeau needs to know.
More Albertans are unemployed this year than at any point since 1982. And across our great country hundreds of thousands of Canadians who depend on jobs in our resource industries are without a paycheque.
It’s time to take care of the families hardest hit and have a real plan to get people back to work.
But through the first 100 days of the Trudeau administration I’ve come to two conclusions:
First, the Prime Minister doesn’t understand what drives our economy and the people who work day and night to keep food on our tables, our cars running, and roofs over our heads. Second, Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand his role when our country faces challenges.
In Canada, resources and resourcefulness go hand in hand. This is well understood by ordinary Canadians. Yet astonishingly, the Prime Minister made a point of informing a posh audience at an Economic Forum in Switzerland that Canada will now be known for our “resourcefulness” instead of our “resources.”
Maybe Mr. Trudeau knows about job openings in the “resourcefulness” sector he’d like to tell us about?
From agriculture, to fisheries, to mining, to timber, and yes, even oil and gas, it’s natural resources that have helped propel Canada to being an economic world leader.
These sectors employ millions of highly educated and hardworking people. Energy related-careers have always been well-paying jobs that create spin-offs at local restaurants, shops, and all parts of our economy. But when prices drop rapidly and drastically, these jobs often dry up first, which is the reality facing some 100,000 jobless Albertans today.
In every region there are good people who want to work; Canadians who have the skills, the desire, and the ambition but can’t find a job. At the same time, there are tremendous opportunities with natural resource projects that will open new markets and create jobs. And they won’t cost taxpayers a dime.
But with Mr. Trudeau, these job-creating projects have stalled. Our environmental scientists, engineers, labourers and their families are stuck looking for work in the same difficult job market they just left, because new pipelines are stuck in a seemingly never-ending review process.
The fact that resource projects aren’t going ahead, and putting more people to work, is not solely due to low prices.
It’s also very much a result of the Liberal government throwing up roadblocks and creating delays. If ever there were time for a government to create certainty, and to do no further harm to the economy, it’s now. Low oil prices may be beyond any government’s control, but harmful policy isn’t.
Just last week, the Liberals added nine months onto an already rigorous multi-year process for key resource projects.
This ambiguous policy is also unfinished – a so-called interim process – which does nothing for Canadians looking for work right now.
The Prime Minister has also committed to another carbon tax, which will be layered on top of carbon taxes already in place in some provinces, including Alberta.
These new policies don’t create jobs; they only create more investor doubt about these projects. Instead of attracting international private sector investment that will create jobs, the Liberals are actively chasing it away.
With Canadians facing serious challenges, I would expect the Prime Minister to take a leadership role. Instead, what we have seen is Justin Trudeau choosing to play “referee.” But referees do not create jobs. It’s unacceptable for the Prime Minister to sit this out.
Canadians need leadership from someone who understands how our economy works and respects the people who make it run.