Remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Thank you, Naheed, for being such a strong advocate for the people who call Calgary home. The pride that you feel for your hometown and your desire to see every Calgarian live up to their potential is obvious to anyone who meets you. I also have to thank your Chamber President, Adam Legge, for inviting me to be here, and of course, thank you to all of you for coming out so very, very early in what I know is a tremendously busy time of year for everyone.
So you might remember that I made Calgary the very first stop in my leadership campaign back in 2012. And since then – I looked it up – I’ve actually been back in Calgary 14 times over the years and (parenthesis: just since becoming Prime Minister, I’ve actually made 8 trips to Alberta). And on one of those trips a few years ago at the Calgary Petroleum Club, I made my feelings about Calgary very clear. I said: this place is important – Calgary, Alberta and all of Western Canada. It’s important now, and it will be even more important in the future.
And here we are, three years later. A lot has changed. I have a different job and different responsibilities. Many of you have changed jobs as well. Too often, not as a matter of choice, but as a matter of economic necessity. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
But what hasn’t changed for me since then and what I hope hasn’t changed for you either is a conviction that this city matters. What happens in Calgary is important. It’s important to Alberta and to all of Canada. And I could talk about economic indicators, but measures like that don’t fully capture what’s really important: how people are feeling.
I know that the last couple of years have been really tough on Calgary. The oil price shock hit markets and companies hard all over the world, but here in Calgary, it hit families even harder. I know that our MPs, Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang and others have been working really hard to make sure that Calgary is always on top of mind in Ottawa. And part of that, as I’ve said, has been keeping our government connected to how families are faring – to how people are doing.
I had a chance when I was back here in late March for an EI announcement to sit down and chat with a number of Calgarians who were struggling. These were people young and not so young. And I took away two things from that meeting. First, that Calgarians aren’t looking for a handout. All they want is a real and fair chance to succeed. An opportunity to support themselves and their families. And second, that the challenges that Calgary has been facing have been felt beyond the oil and gas sector. They’ve hit the whole community hard.
Knowing this, knowing how difficult the last couple of years have been for Calgary and for Alberta as a whole, we’ve taken some significant steps to help. As Naheed pointed out, these include infrastructure investments to help Albertans get back to work and to help strengthen and grow the provincial and national economies. Here in Calgary, we’re contributing more than $750 million in transformational projects, projects like the Green Line LRT, and the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, something that as you know has been in the works since the 70s. For local businesses like yours, better transit and better highways mean better and faster access to markets. For Calgary families, it means that they’ll be able to get home sooner at the end of a long day, whether they’re coming from work or school or the rink. And, by the way, who better to get that done than a proud Albertan who came here as a young man, started out as a bus driver and is now building transit systems all across Canada, our Minister of Infrastructure, Amarjeet Sohi? Thank you, Amarjeet, for all the hard work you’re doing.
And most critically, these infrastructure investments will create good, well-paying jobs for Calgary’s middle class and for those working hard to join it. But we know that government can only do so much. For Calgary to succeed, the energy sector needs to be given a real chance to succeed. So just a few weeks ago, our government approved both the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and the Line Three replacement project. Together, these two projects will create 22,000 new jobs, mostly in the trades. And as I said in making the announcement, these approvals are a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families, and for the Canadian economy. They will give much needed hope to thousands of hardworking people in Alberta’s conventional energy sector who have suffered a great deal in the past few years. They will help provide the growth in resources we need to spur Canada’s clean energy transition, and they will prove to Canada and to the world that responsible resource development can go hand-in-hand with strong environmental protection. After all, it was decisive federal and provincial leadership on confronting climate change that made these approvals possible.
As I said at the time, and I’ll say it again today, pipelines won’t solve all of our economic problems. That’s impossible. We’re reasonable people, we agree that the oil and natural gas industries are important, but they are not all there is to the economy. At the same time, the development of pipelines done responsibly and carefully is not an environmental disaster in and of itself.
You see, that way of thinking – that we have to choose between growing the economy and protecting the environment – simply doesn’t work. Not anymore. And Canadians understand that. Canadians don’t want economic growth at any cost, nor do they want an environmental strategy that treats jobs and growth as an afterthought. What they voted for last fall and what our government has been working very hard ever since to deliver is leadership that gets the job done.
I’m talking about the important work of opening up markets abroad for Canadian resources and then working with business, other orders of government, indigenous partners and civil society to find responsible and sustainable ways of getting those resources to markets. And that’s not easily done and it doesn’t happen overnight, but when you have the political will, when you’re committed to having some tough conversations and making some difficult decisions, you can make real progress on both the economy and the environment.
And the secret to getting the job done is one well-known to all Albertans: rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. We will continue to work hard to build an economy that works for more Canadians while also protecting the environment, so that future generations can inherit a cleaner, more prosperous country. We will do it because we know that both are possible and we’ll do it because we believe in Albertan and we believe…we believe in Alberta and we believe in Albertans.
Thank you, friends. Thank you very much.