Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.

MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

The cancellation of a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States is a huge blow to the Canadian energy sector, according to a Kootenay-based parliamentarian.

Rob Morrison, MP for Kootenay-Columbia, called the permit’s cancellation ‘devastating news’ for regional residents employed in the energy sector.

“That was probably, since this pandemic, the worst day for Kootenay-Columbia and for Alberta,” Morrison said. “I can’t even fathom how that’s going to affect our riding and certainly Alberta. Thousands of job losses…we have family, friends, neighbours that work in the energy sector, we have tourism that relies on a significant amount of tourists from the province of Alberta.

“It was devastating news. I can’t even imagine anyone clapping their hands on that.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed pipeline route that would carry crude oil starting in Alberta and cut through southern Saskatchewan into Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska in the United States

The permit’s cancellation was part of a slew of policy announcements contained in a number of executive orders signed by U.S. President Joe Biden during his first day in the White House following his inauguration on Jan. 20.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump had approved the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit in March 2019.

Morrison said that Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole is setting up a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss strategies for engaging with the Biden Administration over the future of the project.

Prime Minister Trudeau called Biden’s move to cancel the permit ‘disappointing’ in a statement issued after Biden’s announcement.

“I spoke directly with President Biden about the project last November, and Ambassador Hillman and others in our government made the case to high-level officials in the incoming administration,” said Trudeau.

“Workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and across Canada will always have our support. Canada is the single-largest supplier of energy to the United States, contributing to U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness, and supporting thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.”

While Morrison defended his support for the energy sector, he also advocated for the development of clean energy sources.

“I’m hoping that once we get the energy sector back up and running, that we tax the emitters and that tax goes into research and development so we produce clean energy,” said Morrison, “but without a tax base, and we have a trillion dollar debt, I’m just not sure how we’re going to move forward. It’s going to be very difficult.”

Controversial Tory MP removed from caucus

The Conservatives ejected a controversial Ontario MP from caucus following a secret-ballot party vote on Jan. 20.

Derek Sloan, who represents the riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington in Ontario, was removed because of a ‘pattern of destructive behaviour involving multiple incidents and disrespect towards the Conservative team’, according to a statement from O’Toole.

Sloan’s removal follows revelations that his campaign accepted a $131 donation from a white nationalist during his run for party leadership in 2019. In a statement posted on social media, Sloan said the donation was processed by his campaign team without recognizing the identity of the donor, Paul Fromm, a white supremacist.

Morrison said the Conservative caucus discussed ‘many other things’ during the meeting.

“When we went into the caucus meeting to review what had happened, it wasn’t that at all,” said Morrison. “It was MP Sloan’s leadership, it was his poor judgment, it was many other things that came up and both the Members of Parliament who had direct dealings with MP Sloan and MP Sloan himself had opportunities to talk about what had happened and what their answers were, whether or not they agreed with the comments that came up.

“So it was quite a long and detailed meeting that gave opportunities for both sides.”

Morrison said the debate around removing Sloan from caucus included many considerations, but he also condemned the source of the Ontario MP’s campaign donation.

“Taking money from a white supremacist? That is totally wrong, that is not acceptable whatsoever,” said Morrison. “As former law enforcement, I would put those people in jail.”

In the past, Sloan has also been criticized by elected officials and advocates for his positions on abortion and LGBTQ issues.

Sloan’s removal from caucus follows a statement issued by O’Toole last weekend, where he touted ‘trailblazing Canadians from all backgrounds’ who have made up the Conservative Party throughout history.

O’Toole’s statement also challenged the Liberals for labelling him as ‘far right’, given the current tensions in the United States, which came to a head on Jan. 6 when a mob incited by former President Trump marched on and invaded U.S. Capitol buildings, forcing the evacuation of lawmakers.

“If the Liberals want to label me as “far right,” they are welcome to try,” said O’Toole, in the statement. “Canadians are smart and they will see this as an attempt to mislead people and import some of the fear and division we have witnessed in the United States. I am happy to have my character and my experience in and out of politics held up alongside Mr. Trudeau on any occasion.”

Asked about O’Toole’s statement, Morrison said there is a wide variety of conservative support in the riding, from social conservatism to a more centrist side of the political spectrum.

“I think what Mr. O’Toole was trying to say is that we do support a wide variety of people and some people have different views,” said Morrison. “We never all agree on exactly the same thing at all.”

With files from the Canadian Press