Trudeau not focusing on Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s price war during COVID-19

Prime minister recognizes energy sector hit hard already

Ottawa – Canada is focusing on COVID-19, and not Saudi Arabia’s aggressive oil price war and its impact on Canada, at this time.

That was the response from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his daily morning briefing on March 28 when asked by Reuters about the possibility of tariffs on Saudi oil and an anti-dumping case, as suggested by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney the day before.

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Trudeau said, “Obviously we are very concerned with OPEC’s decisions that are putting at risk the livelihoods of people around the world, particularly Canadians who work in the oil and gas sector. We are focused on helping those Canadians, helping those who are hardest hit economically by COVID-19. The measures we put in place will support Canadians right across the country including in our oil and gas sector. But we also know it’s a sector that’s been particularly hard hit and we will look for further help to be able to support people as they get through.

“In terms of international collaboration, coordination, we continue to be part of conversations on this issue around the world.”

Asked if he would look at a more aggressive approach on Saudi Arabia, he replied, “I think this is a moment we need to focus on getting through COVID-19 as best we possibly can. I think there will be a lot of reflections on how various countries behaved in this particular moment. Our focus, right now, is on making sure we can support our citizens and stabilize the global economy the best way we can, which we are doing though our membership in the G7, in the G20, in various international forums and approaches that we have, while at the same time focusing on supporting Canadians and making them safe.”

A further question on when the energy sector would see support, as hinted at by Finance Minister Bill Morneau earlier in the week, had Trudeau saying, “We’re continuing to work, to try to provide workers in the energy sector with the support that they need. We recognize the collapse of oil prices around the world is hitting hard, people who have been extremely hard hit over the past years already. That is why we need to get this right. We’re working with provinces, we’re working with industry, we’re working with various sectors including unions and others to try to make sure that, on top of the help we’re already giving, $2000 a month to people already laid off, 75 per cent wage subsidies so people can keep people on the payroll. We’re going to continue to make sure that, once we are through this difficult time, people in industries right across the country are going to be able to pick themselves up, get back to work, and have our economy continue to work strongly as it was before.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort, in the meantime, and it’s going to take us doing different things and trying different things. But we are going to keep working until we manage to help everyone,” he said.

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