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MP urges government to support oil and gas industry

John Barlow

John Barlow

The local member of parliament is urging the federal government to introduce measures to support those affected by a slowdown in the oil and gas industry.
Foothills MP John Barlow appeared as a delegation at the Jan. 13 MD of Willow Creek council meeting to discuss issues and answer questions.
Chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti asked Barlow if he had any idea what the federal government was going to do to address falling oil prices.
“Uh — no,” Barlow responded. “That’s my short answer.”
Barlow said it is tough to see provincial and federal governments not treat this issue as a priority.
Barlow pointed out oil and gas is a $130-billion industry. The auto sector is the next largest at about $60-billion.
“We’re at a crisis, or very close to a crisis,” Barlow said.
“There are too many unknowns,” Barlow added, alluding to uncertainty created by a royalty review, and whether the federal government will or won’t introduce a carbon tax.
“The oil price is not scaring them away, it’s the unknowns that’s scaring them away,” Barlow said.
Barlow urged the government to work with the provinces to get the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines done.
At the federal level, discussion can also be quashed around introducing a carbon tax and increasing corporate taxes.
Reeve Neil Wilson asked what happens when employment insurance benefits run out.
Barlow replied traditionally programs are not added, but the federal government did extend benefits in 2008 to deal with an economic downturn.
Barlow will push for that again, and added it is the small companies that really suffer.
“It’s going to have huge social consequences within our smaller towns,” Wilson said.
Vizzutti added this year was the first time in 30 years oil and gas companies have defaulted on their municipal taxes.
Barlow was also asked about the Trans Pacific Partnership, and whether the new federal government will still support it.
Barlow responded the government has been meeting with people, pointing out the minister was in Alberta recently meeting with representatives of Alberta Beef Producers and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“I’m hopeful they will follow through,” Barlow said, adding the agreement will be debated in the House of Commons.

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