May 22, 2020

Is LEEFF help, or another chance for Liberal virtue signaling?

Is LEEFF help, or another chance for Liberal virtue signaling?

The energy industry’s weekly reminder that the federal government is actually against them came last Wednesday with the announcement of the LEEFF fund. 

LEEFF, or “Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility” is a COVID-19 era program that was created to provide loans to companies that can demonstrate approximately $300-million or more in annual revenues. Conditions apply. 

Applicants to LEEFF must, among other things, publish “an annual climate‑related financial disclosure report, highlighting how corporate [the company] will help manage climate-related risks and opportunities; and contribute to achieving Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and goal of net zero by 2050.”

One crisis is apparently not enough for the federal government. They must also “take action” on the ever-threatening climate crisis, no matter how untimely this action is. 

It seems a bit insensitive for “Prime Minister Empathy” to be conditioning support for liquidity-hampered employers on their ability to meet unachievable environmental targets. 

Maybe we could focus on the actual health crisis and its financial implications instead? But those are not enough, and our government will not miss a single opportunity to demonstrate their green-ness. 

This is the government that kills resource projects it doesn’t like, regulates others out of existence, and adds to those injuries with insults like proposed bans on essential goods like plastic and now, unrealistic conditions on loan guarantees. So, of course they must hinge their support on an unrealistic future target; they need to keep up appearances. 

The government refuses to acknowledge the economic collapse that will follow from the destruction of energy affordability. As I reminded readers last week, the government collects almost $15 billion a year from the oil and gas industries alone. 

But over and above that, because energy affordability is what keeps our country competitive, their revenues from every other key sector is connected.  Drive out investment and drive up energy costs, and every other sector suffers. That means we all suffer as Canadians.

The government knows this. But they remain blinded by their green ideology.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau promised help to the energy sector all the way back in March – he said it was mere “hours” away. Over a month later he delivered a narrow plan that was more about targeted environmental management (things like orphan well clean-up) than about dealing with a government-imposed economic shuttering. 

Now LEEFF once again delivers green-conditioned help. We will help you, the government says, if you commit to meeting these unrealistic standards. The world is backing off of net zero by 2050, but not Mr. Trudeau.

When Joe Biden said he would tear up the Keystone XL approvals if elected, our Prime Minister responded saying he had always advocated for this pipeline. Trudeau noted the importance of Canada as a safe and reliable source of energy “...even as we move forward to a different future.” 

Why can he not be such an advocate within our own borders? Why do energy companies have to fight and beg to continue to deliver the benefits Canadians need? Why do pipelines not get built across our own country? 

We will need our energy industry to get through this economic crisis. There is no way around it. The government needs to realize it before it is too late. Canada’s economy depends on it.