Opposition leader Andrew Scheer and his inner circle are having full-day secret meetings with Canada’s main oil and gas lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). That’s seriously concerning.

The oil and gas industry, led by CAPP, has opposed many measures to tackle climate change. And it has a track record of successfully killing, delaying, or weakening climate action in Canada.

Taking cues from CAPP will almost inevitably lead to weaker positions on climate action. It doesn’t inspire confidence either that these meetings were in secret hotel rooms, as opposed to on Parliament Hill where they would be documented in the lobbyist registry.

For the record, here’s a summary of what CAPP has accomplished to advance the interest of petroleum companies and against the health of Canadians and the future of the planet:

  • Carbon pricing: Took such an oppositional stance on carbon pricing that Shell threatened to leave CAPP if it didn’t start supporting a policy that many oil and gas companies and conservatives in other parts of the world had historically supported.
  • Impact Assessment (Bill C-69): Publicly campaigned against a bill to strengthen the impact assessments of new industrial projects, and met with federal officials on the bill an average of more than once per day in the last 8 months of last year. This bill is currently in danger of being entirely re-written by the Senate.
  • Clean Fuel Standard: Successfully lobbied to have tar sands oil be counted as having the same impact on the climate as lower-carbon oil in the Clean Fuel Standard, a measure intended to improve over time the carbon content of fuels used in Canada. Also, the regulations have been delayed to after the 2019 federal election.
  • Methane regulations: According to documents revealed under Freedom of Information requests, advocated for rules that were weaker, delayed, and in some cases no longer mandatory. CAPP was successful in delaying implementation of federal regulations by 2-4 years.
  • Tar sands pipelines: During the recent Alberta election campaign, advocated for six additional pipelines to carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet to world markets (and four more LNG terminals), thumbing their nose at climate science and Canada’s international climate commitments. Canada needs instead to stop building high-carbon projects.

Graph showing oil and gas industry emissions in Canada, showing emissions growth to 192megatonnes on current projections, compared to a emissions of 111 megatonnes with Canada's Paris climate target, and 100 megatonnes to match the IPCC's 1.5 path.

CAPP is lobbying against good, sensible measures that will reduce carbon emissions over time, that are urgently needed for a high-emitting industry whose emissions are going up, not down. Similar or stronger measures have been used elsewhere to successfully reduce climate pollution.

So yeah, Canadians should be worried that the leader of Canada’s official opposition and his closest political advisors are spending whole days behind closed doors meeting with an industry that seems determined to literally cook the planet.

One of the people at that meeting said that these types of meetings had gone on across the country. That makes me worry even more about how far Big Oil is willing to go to influence Canadian politics.

Because let’s be real. If Canada’s oil executives get their wishes, most Canadians will be worse off (because of poorer health, higher costs from floods, wildfires, and other extreme weather, or lost economic opportunities in clean energy). Well, except for oil executives.