Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr delivered almost everything a Calgary business crowd wanted to hear Friday, though he stopped short of endorsing a specific oil export pipeline project currently proposed in Canada.
Carr was seated at a table with pipeline executives Russ Girling, the CEO of TransCanada, and Ian Anderson, the CEO of Kinder Morgan. Both companies have multi-billion dollar proposals to export Alberta oil.
"We are going to create the best chance for these projects to be reviewed, and those decisions will hold the confidence of Canadians, and cabinet will determine [if it's] in the national interest," said Carr. "The prime minister's goal is to get our resources to tidewater sustainably."
Carr told the audience he has confidence and optimism that the government will find a way for new pipelines to be constructed. It was the best he could offer the Calgary crowd.
"He just didn't say 'I'm there to be your cheerleader,'" said Adam Legge, head of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, which organized the sold-out event in the city's downtown. "It's not the perfect answer, but it's a pretty good one."
Carr and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received praise from the oilpatch this week for their visit to Alberta and the way they have listened to industry members. The reaction to Carr's remarks on Friday were no different.
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"I am confident working together government, industry, aboriginal communities, NGOs, and all the people that have a say, working together we can bring that opportunity to fruition," said TransCanada's Girling in remarks thanking Carr for attending the event.
"Thanks for listening, learning and your leadership that will, I'm confident, will lead us to a better outcome going forward."
The event followed roundtable discussions with oil and gas executives in Calgary on Thursday that included Premier Rachel Notley.
"They are engaged in the importance of oil and gas to the Canadian economy," said David McHattie, with Tenaris Global Services, a company that sells casing, tubing and pipes. "As industry, we all need to communicate and share our views."
Carr explained why one of his priorities is to make changes to the National Energy Board, including how that organization reviews pipeline project proposals.
"It hasn't worked, it's too tough, it takes too long," Carr said. "How can we do better?"
Large projects in Canada will not be constructed without consultation with First Nations and Canadians, in general, need to feel that they are heard, he said.
"It's not the job for me to advocate on behalf of a certain industry. It's my job as minister of natural resources to advocate on behalf of creating conditions that allow us to create jobs and sustainability in the natural resource sector."