Scotiabank CEO calls for end to bickering, indecision over energy infrastructure

Scotiabank’s chief executive is calling on Canadian leaders to end the “inter-provincial bickering” and “political indecision” that is delaying several energy infrastructure projects.

Brian Porter told shareholders at Scotiabank’s (TSX:BNS) annual meeting that it should be a national priority to improve Canadian access to global energy markets.

“It is clear our inability to deliver energy to the world is detrimental to Canada’s economy,” Porter said in a speech in Ottawa on Thursday.

“It’s also detrimental to our country’s brand and future economic prospects for all Canadians … Global market access for Canadian energy must be a common objective that we pursue vigorously.”

Building better energy infrastructure would benefit not only the country’s economy but also the bank, Porter said.

Scotiabank has financed a number of infrastructure projects across its footprint, including in Europe and Australia, and plans to finance more, said Porter.

“Infrastructure is something you’re going to hear more about from this bank for a long period of time,” he told reporters following the meeting.

Porter also noted in his speech that the sharp decline in oil prices in recent months has hurt the country’s economy and its outlook for GDP growth.

Oil prices have been hovering near six-year lows as a global oversupply and soft demand have cut the price of crude to about US$50 a barrel from as much as US$107 early last summer.

Meanwhile, a number of pipeline projects — including TransCanada’s (TSX:TRP) Keystone XL — remain mired in delays.

“I think there’s a degree of complacency in Canada about this debate and discussion that we should be having,” Porter said.

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