New Brunswick

Andrew Scheer renews call for gas pump flags of origin

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is repeating his call for foreign-oil stickers on gas station pumps as he meets with New Brunswick’s biggest gas retailer.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says stickers showing origin of oil could increase support for Energy East

In his first visit to the province since being elected leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer pushed for gas-pump stickers showing if retailers are using foreign oil. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is repeating his call for foreign-oil stickers on gas station pumps as he visits the home of Canada's largest oil refinery.

Scheer told Information Morning Saint John that he thinks putting the labels on the pumps would increase support for the proposed Energy East pipeline.

"I believe that if Canadians knew that a significant percentage of their energy was coming from countries like Algeria, even the United States, Saudi Arabia, there would be more local demand for Canadian products," he said Friday.

"I think that's how we can create the demand for projects like Energy East."

Scheer proposed the labels when running for the Conservative leadership. A campaign video showed stickers on a gas pump with the flags of five countries that supply oil to Canadian refineries.

Scheer's first N.B. visit as leader

Scheer was making his first swing through New Brunswick since winning the Conservative leadership. He started the day in Saint John, where the Irving Oil refinery would receive some Alberta oil from the Energy East pipeline.

Reducing Canada's use of foreign oil is one of the main arguments used by supporters of Energy East.

"There's western energy that's much safer, much more ethical, that would employ Canadians," he said.

Scheer said most consumers don't realize a lot of the fuel they use comes from overseas countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have poor human rights records.

"I think it's totally legitimate to inform consumers, when you can't go through Walmart without looking at where every product is made and where things come from," he said.

"I think that's an acceptable part of the Canadian economy."

Irving Oil did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Scheer's idea.

Sees other gains with Energy East

A still from Sheer's campaign video shows the proposed stickers that would be posted on gas pumps. (Facebook)

Scheer said another argument for more Canadian oil coming to Saint John by pipeline is that foreign oil creates more emissions when it's transported across great distances in large diesel-burning tankers.

Most of the Canadian oil that would travel from Alberta to Saint John through the 4,500-kilometre Energy East pipeline would be shipped overseas through an export terminal to be built near the Irving refinery.

Irving refines about 320,000 barrels a day and has committed to taking 50,000 barrels a day from the pipeline, not enough to end the company's use of foreign oil.

Last year, company president Ian Whitcomb told the Financial Post that Irving Oil will add Western Canadian crude to its portfolio "as the economics dictate, but probably not at the expense of our Saudi barrels."

Scheer said Energy East would still lead to "much less" foreign oil and that doesn't affect the argument for the labels.

"I believe in the free market, and if refineries have a better deal from another country, it's absolutely their right to do that, but I also believe it's right for consumers to know where that's coming from."

He said the stickers would not cost oil retailers anything.

Opposed to a Canada-China free trade deal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shake hands in Ottawa last fall. The Trudeau government is exploring the possibility of a free-trade agreement with China, which Scheer opposes. (Adrian Wyld/Associated Press)
Scheer also tried to reconcile his opposition to a Canada-China free trade agreement with the search for new export markets for Canadian softwood.

The Trudeau government is exploring whether to pursue a trade deal with China. At the same time, it sees China as a potential buyer of more softwood now that the United States is applying tariffs to Canadian imports.

Scheer said he's for softwood exports to China but not a broad free trade agreement.

"There are ways we can have trade deals with China that fall short of a full free trade deal that would cover every single aspect of the economy," he said.

"I believe we can get an export deal with China on specific commodities like softwood lumber. I don't believe that the two have to go together."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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