Environment Media release

News release: Federal parties respond to questions about their commitment to protect the Nova Scotia offshore

For immediate release: September 7, 2021

K’jpuktuk/ Halifax, Nova Scotia


The Offshore Alliance, a consortium of 18 fisheries and environmental groups concerned about the wellbeing of our fishery and tourism industries in the face of offshore oil and gas development off Nova Scotia, asked leading political parties contending for the eleven Nova Scotia seats in the federal election campaign three questions about their commitment to protect the offshore. The questions focus on extending the moratorium on oil and gas activities on Georges Bank, ending oil and gas subsidies and supports, and ending all offshore Nova Scotia oil and gas activities by the end of 2022. 


Today, the Alliance releases the parties’ responses. 


With just 12 days left in the campaign, voters in NS need to decide how they will vote. According to a public opinion poll released by Alliance members in June, 85% of Nova Scotians agree that COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans should prioritize a move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and efficiency systems, including training and income support for affected workers. 


In light of recent landmark international reports highlighting the climate crisis and the urgent need to achieve net-zero emissions, the Offshore Alliance is calling on federal parties to commit to formally ending offshore exploration and drilling, and subsidies that support these activities.


In stark contrast to this vision, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is promoting “exploration incentives,” “predictable regulation,” and removing “barriers for companies wanting to invest in exploration activities.” 


Which future is the preferred one for Nova Scotia? — one that addresses the climate crisis head on, or one that makes the climate crisis worse? 


A poll of Nova Scotians conducted by Narrative Research on behalf of the Offshore Alliance members shows there is an overwhelming mandate to shift away from fossil fuels and to support a just transition.

The Alliance is publishing the following parties’ responses in order to help Nova Scotians decide which parties and candidates to support this election.  

Responses to Offshore Alliance questions: 2021 federal election campaign


Questions: 

1. Will you extend the moratorium on oil and gas activities on Georges Bank as soon as possible, and certainly before December 31, 2022, when the current moratorium expires? 


2. Will you end all subsidies and supports for oil and gas exploration and development in Nova Scotian waters by no later than the end of 2022? 


3. Will you end all oil and gas activities in Nova Scotian waters by no later than the end of 2022?  


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Conservative Party of Canada: 


No response was received by Monday, September 6. 

Green Party of Canada: 


“Yes” to all three questions. 

1. Extending the moratorium off George’s Bank is definitely GPC policy and has been for some time. 


2. Ending subsidies to fossil fuel exploration off NS and elsewhere has been GPC policy since 2015 and continues to be now more than ever. 


3. And finally, YES, we will end oil and gas activities in Nova Scotia waters by 2022. 


We are the only party with a policy to place a moratorium on any exploration or development of fossil fuels in the Gulf of St Lawrence, including cancelling any activity at “Old Harry.”

Liberal Party of Canada: 


Yes. The Liberal Party recognizes the importance and environmental sensitivity of the Georges Bank area, and, together with Nova Scotia, we have taken steps to protect this valuable ecosystem. A re-elected Liberal government will continue to work in collaboration with Nova Scotia to ensure that the ecological health of this vital and unique area is maintained for the benefit of generations of Canadians to come, which includes exercising the ability under the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to further extend the moratorium in increments of 10 years.
 The Liberal government has consistently been phasing out fossil fuel subsidies since 2015. A re-elected Liberal government will:
Accelerate our G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023.
Develop a plan to phase-out public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including from Crown corporations, consistent with our commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
End any new direct government support for international carbon-intensive fossil fuel energy immediately.
Work with G20 partners to complete a peer review of Canada’s accelerated plan to phase out federal fossil fuel subsidies.
Require Canadian crown corporations to publicly disclose climate-related financial risks.
A re-elected Liberal government, working with Nova Scotia in accordance with the principles of joint management of the offshore, would focus its efforts on the safe and responsible decommissioning of abandoned projects including Deep Panuke and Sable and commit to furthering the deployment of offshore renewable technologies like tidal and wind energy. 

New Democratic Party of Canada: 

Yes. New Democrats understand the vital role Georges Bank plays in maintaining Nova Scotia’s fishery. With its elevated ocean floor and wide variety of sea life, scientists have underscored its importance as a spawning spot for many fish species. We cannot overstate its importance to the economy of our coastal communities. In government, New Democrats would work with all those who share these waters to determine how best to build a sustainable economy.   

New Democrats will pursue a Nature agenda, anchored by our commitment to safeguarding ecosystems and biodiversity by protecting 30% of our land, freshwater and oceans by 2030. We will protect our oceans and our freshwater, by reducing emissions from shipping and fishing, expanding marine protected areas, reducing key threats to ocean ecosystems and implementing a national freshwater strategy.

Yes. New Democrats are committed to helping stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To that end we will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, reaching further wherever possible to account for Canada’s fair share. We know that reaching net-zero by 2050 means taking action now, during the term of this next Parliament.

One thing we won’t do is continue down the path that Liberal and Conservative governments have chosen when it comes to spending public money on oil and gas subsidies. Under Prime Minister Trudeau, the federal government spent $18 billion to support oil and gas exploration, production, refining, transportation and more in 2020 alone – and that’s on top of purchasing the Kinder-Morgan oil pipeline. New Democrats know that public funds are best spent supporting the transition to renewable energy, rather than on profitable oil and gas companies. We will fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment to eliminate these fossil fuel subsidies and redirect these funds to low carbon initiatives, and make sure that future governments can’t reverse this by putting in place legislation to ban any future oil, gas and pipeline subsidies.

Given our commitment to reduce Canada’s emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, an NDP government will begin discussions immediately with all stakeholders. Environmental sustainability and stewardship must be at the heart of everything we do. 

In government, New Democrats would work with stakeholders to develop policies that would best meet the needs and concerns of all those who share the offshore waters. Unlike Liberals who profess a commitment to combatting the climate crisis but take no meaningful action, and the Conservatives who are willfully blind to the crisis that is unfolding before us, New Democrats will explore options and share perspectives with all whose livelihood depends on our offshore.

The Alliance was also contacted by the Communist Party of Canada, which had heard about the questions sent to the four other parties, and requested an opportunity to respond. 

Communist Party of Canada: 


1. Will you extend the moratorium on oil and gas activities on Georges Bank as soon as possible, and certainly before December 31, 2022, when the current moratorium expires? 

The Communist Party of Canada believes that the world is at a tipping point of irreversible climate change, requiring emergency measures and action by all governments. We see the issue of drilling on Georges Bank as a climate justice, working class, and an Indigenous sovereignty issue due to its impact on fisheries and tourism in the region. We all not only for a moratorium on oil and gas activities on Georges Bank, but on all Nova Scotian waters.

In fact, our platform calls for a halt to all fracking operations and phase out of tar sands extraction and coal-fired plants starting immediately. We also call for a moratorium on the exploration and development of shale gas resources. Among our policy proposals are the cancellation of all pipeline projects based on expansion of tar sands extraction, like the Energy Saguenay LNG project in Quebec, the Coastal Gaslink, Trans Mountain Expansion, Line 9 and Line 5.

2. Will you end all subsidies and supports for oil and gas exploration and development in Nova Scotian waters by no later than the end of 2022? 

Absolutely. Not only we call for the termination of all subsidies and supports for oil and gas exploration, which we consider a de facto wealth transfer from working people to corporations and the ruling class, but we propose to replace cap-and-trade and carbon tax schemes with strict legal limits for pollution and hard caps on emissions, especially from industrial sources, to reduce net emissions to zero by 2050.

We need a fundamental change on how energy and natural resources are administered in this country. That is why our platform calls for a People’s Energy Plan, which includes public ownership and real democratic control of all energy and natural resources, including extraction, production, and distribution. 

3. Will you end all oil and gas activities in Nova Scotian waters by no later than the end of 2022? 

Yes, ending oil and gas activities in Nova Scotian waters is in line with our proposed People’s Energy Plan and transitioning Canada out of a fossil fuel-dependent economy, with a goal to reduce net emissions to zero by 2050. 

While we transition out of a fossil fuel economy, we need to guarantee jobs for energy industry workers in the renewable energy sector and in other sectors of the economy, and to do that we should invest heavily to create jobs through renewable energy and conservation programs.

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The Offshore Alliance is a consortium of 18 fisheries and environmental groups concerned about the wellbeing of our fishery and tourism industries and the environment in the face of offshore oil and gas development off Nova Scotia. Our Group has been in discussion with many Nova Scotian municipal units on this critically important issue. Twelve Nova Scotian towns and municipalities have now called on our provincial and federal governments to hold a full public inquiry on the risks and impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction so that fully informed and rational decisions can be made. 

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