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Friday, February 10, 2012

Conservatives sell out refining jobs in Canada

Conservatives sell out refining jobs in Canada

Parliamentary hearings highlight need for energy strategy

February 9, 2012

OTTAWA – Parliamentary hearings on the decline of the refining sector concluded today with further testimony outlining the Conservatives’ failure to protect Canadian jobs, as well as the need for a ‘made for Canada’ energy strategy that puts Canadians, and the public interest, first.

The hearings come almost a year after Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver promised a national energy plan, something he has failed to act on.

“For out of work Canadians, it’s troubling that these hearings conclude while the Prime Minister is in China flogging raw bitumen and selling out Canadian workers,” said Natural Resources critic Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt). “We heard worrying testimony about the decline of the Canadian refining industry – on average, we’re losing one refinery a year. With them, Canada loses thousands of high paying long-term jobs.”

The hearings came as a result of a New Democrat motion to study the state of oil pipelines and refining capacity in Canada.

The Committee heard testimony, based on calculations by the Conference Board of Canada, that the closure of the Oakville and Montreal refineries produced a loss over a five-year period of 25,000 person years of work - $2.6 billion of GDP and $300 million in lost taxes. Direct employment in the refinery sector has fallen by nearly 10,000 workers since 1989.

“The testimony we’ve heard has been illuminating and troubling,” said Associate Critic for Natural Resources Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby-Douglas). “Almost without exception, every witness, from business, academia and labour - spoke to the need for an energy strategy for Canada."

"The lack of a long-term vision for energy creates harmful uncertainty in the industry and jeopardizes Canada’s energy future," continued Stewart. "We need a plan which puts Canadian interests first, and we reject the false dichotomy of having to choose between protecting our environment and ensuring long-term jobs for Canadians.”

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