Part One: NS and NB should stop squabbling and think big – An AIMS Oil & Gas Perspective

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are currently butting heads before the National Energy Board over whether offshore natural gas will be sold in the US or consumed in Canada. But bigger than the benefits of consuming gas, or selling it on to US consumers, is the benefit that comes from expanding the supply of offshore gas. By some estimates, the offshore industry has spent less than $2-billion in exploration development and infrastructure construction to date. But if we get a few breaks and the potential reserves offshore turn out to be real, the spending can reach as much as $50-billion.

That’s economic activity too large to be contained by just one province in our small region; it will have powerful spill-over effects into New Brunswick and PEI, as well as into northern New England and eastern Quebec. But it is precisely this impressive potential growth that is threatened if the oil and gas industry becomes convinced that they will not have full access to the US market for the gas they bring ashore. A better strategy for both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, then, is to stop obsessing over gas access. Instead, they should sit down and look at how they can move in concert on energy policy to the region’s advantage. The potential prize is too great for us to waste our time squabbling over the small stuff.

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Part Two: ACOA “giddy with success”

The minister responsible for ACOA, Gerry Byrne, has been publishing articles around Atlantic Canada in recent days to trumpet the successes of his agency and to ridicule those who think that the money devoted to ACOA would be better spent on federal tax cuts in the region. AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley disagrees with Mr. Byrne saying his claims about the overall impact of ACOA beggar belief, and destroy the credibility of ACOA’s more modest but real accomplishments – like it’s recent emphasis on university research. Crowley points out that the amount that ACOA spends in this region is roughly equivalent to what the federal government collects here in corporate income tax alone. ACOA, therefore, really creates no new economic activity in the region, but simply substitutes activities that Gerry Byrne and friends want to promote for activities that Atlantic Canadians would choose to spend their money on if they weren’t so heavily taxed to begin with.

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Part Three: “Canada First” Puts Canada Last – AIMS presentation to the National Energy Board

The efforts to implement a so-called “Canada First” export strategy for natural gas will seriously jeopardise the future of the natural gas industry in Atlantic Canada. This is the message that AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, brought to the National Energy Board during hearings in New Brunswick. According to Crowley, if such a policy had been in place ten years ago there would be no gas for us to fight about today – the Sable Offshore project never would have happened.

Similarly, adopting New Brunswick’s proposed changes would not only put at risk current developments like the Deep Panuke project, but the future of the industry on the East Coast as well. A policy that restrains gas exports will make large capital investments in Atlantic Canada difficult to justify especially when weighed against other areas of gas exploration worldwide. Such a policy would also cause many large volume buyers in the US Northeast market, the major driver of Nova Scotia’s gas developments, to seek alternative sources of gas supplies. Ironically, the results of New Brunswick’s proposed policy in the long run would be less, and more expensive gas, for everyone in the region, including in New Brunswick.

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Part Four: Crowley in the Globe on why MSAs are worth a look

Following the report of Alberta’s Mazankowski Committee on health care, medical savings accounts have become a hot topic. In defending the idea in the Globe and Mail from some recent published attacks, AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley and AIMS intern Brett Skinner write:

“With MSAs, users of the system become accountable partners in health care decision making. If they spend the money in their account wisely, they get to save the balance at the end of the year. If they think about going to the doctor for the everyday complaints we all face, they have to face the fact that medical services cost money, something our system pretends isn’t so. And if they fall really sick, they get exactly the same level of tax-provided care they’re entitled to today. In other words, people are rewarded for using health care services sensibly, rather than penalized for using them appropriately.”

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Part Five: Nationalism and Natural Gas don’t mix – AIMS on CBC

In an attempt to reserve any new discoveries of offshore natural gas for Canadians, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord wants the National Energy Board to only allow the exporting of natural gas to the US, the gas’s chief market, after Canadian needs have been assessed and met. Premier Lord feels oil companies are refusing to sell enough gas to Canadians, and as a result the economic development of some areas, such as northern New Brunswick and eastern Quebec, is being hurt. In this recent CBC Commentary, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley says “Premier Lord, it just ain’t so”. Gas companies have already made substantial supplies available locally, but are now suffering because so few people have signed up – preferring to stick to more traditional forms of fuel. In fact, what Premier Lord is suggesting jeopardizes the spin-off benefits of future exploration and development around the Maritimes, and signals to potential investors in the offshore to stay away or they will become hostage to the whims of politicians trying to curry favour with voters.

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Part Six: Poor quality social programmes breed dependency

A survey conducted by Statistics Canada suggests that the four Atlantic provinces are the country’s most dependent on government transfers. AIMS’ President Brian Lee Crowley attributes this fact partly to the EI and welfare recipients that stay home instead of training or looking for work. “Once everybody’s stamped up for EI, nobody has any reason to want to work,” he said in a recent interview. Crowley suggests reforming the current system so that it would not pay out money to those eligible unless they entered re-training programs and started doing “the jobs that need doing”.

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Part Seven: NS Premier quotes AIMS in the Globe on Oil and Gas

After two decades, Albertans have not forgotten the many people who lost their homes, their businesses and their dreams as a result of the National Energy Program. The rationale and rhetoric of the old National Energy Program are being echoed on the East Coast today. In a case currently before the National Energy Board, New Brunswick is asking that all future exports of Nova Scotia’s natural gas be allowed to reach markets in the United States only “after Canadian needs have been assessed and met.”

In this Globe piece, Premier John Hamm explains why New Brunswick’s actions place the entire industry in jeopardy and he turns to AIMS to provide a clear, concise account of what would happen if New Brunswick’s policies applied to other industries and what will happen if New Brunswick is successful before the NEB – tremendous damage to Canada as an exporter and to its reputation as a place to invest.

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