Nearly $6.5 billion and counting.
That’s what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates has been siphoned out of Canada’s economy since 2013 because of stalled pipeline projects.
“We’re here to show Canadians why they should care about pipeline development,” said Franco Terrazzano, the federation’s Alberta director.
Red Deer was the last stop on a country-wide tour that visited 20 communities in 10 provinces. Dozens of people joined the rally, which was co-sponsored by Rally 4 Resources, outside City Hall on Saturday afternoon.
“Canadian taxpayers are losing out on billions of dollars because we cannot get pipelines built and we’re not receiving full value for our oil,” said Terrazzano.
About $3 million in lost revenue is added to the tally daily, he said.
Enough money has been left uncollected to fund 16 hospitals, or pay the salaries of 20,000 teachers in Alberta for 10 years, he said.
It would also be enough to exempt all of Red Deer’s population from paying federal taxes for 11 years.
“We’re leaving a lot of money on the table because governments are roadblocking pipeline development,” he said.
“It really is self-evident that we don’t have a workable regulatory system in Canada for these projects. The Trans Mountain project has been a debacle.”
Many Canadians Terrazzano has met on his travels are surprised at how much government revenue is being lost because of the lack of movement on pipelines, he said.
Pumps and Pressure territory manager Rod Craven was one of dozens who turned out to support the rally.
“What motivated me is we need to get the word out how much the lack of pipeline space is costing Albertans and Canadians and our economy,” said Craven.
“From jobs to investment, to everything, it has hurt our whole Canadian economy and Canadians need to realize this very quickly.”
Pumps and Pressure employs about 20 in Red Deer and more than 50 in seven branches across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
He was carrying a placard urging that Bill C-69 be stopped.
The Liberal government recently rejected almost all amendments to the controversial legislation put forward by the Conservatives. The legislation overhauls how major natural resource development projects, such as pipelines and mine proposals, are assessed and approved.
Opponents of the legislation, including Premier Jason Kenney, say the bill is too tough on the natural resources industry and will make it impossible to get new energy projects approved.
Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen, who spoke at the rally, said he expects the Liberal government will approve the Trans Mountain pipeline on Tuesday, but will drag its feet on actually getting anything under construction.
Dreeshen was asked if he agrees with the taxpayers group that Canada’s regulatory system is broken.
“The relationship that we have between the government and our industry right now, that I believe is broken,” he replied.