Oil’s not well

Pipe­line pol­i­tics dam­ag­ing to econ­omy

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Lor­rie GOLD­STEIN

Of all the bizarre ideas that have been tossed out in the fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign, the ar­gu­ment Canada should cut its own eco­nomic throat by aban­don­ing ef­forts to build an east-west oil pipe­line to tide­wa­ter is the most dan­ger­ous.

It’s hard to imag­ine any other coun­try se­ri­ously en­ter­tain­ing an idea this dumb and eco­nom­i­cally dis­as­trous.

As Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer said in a meet­ing with the Toronto

Sun ed­i­to­rial board Tues­day, imag­ine the re­ac­tion if po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in Canada were ad­vo­cat­ing in this elec­tion poli­cies that would de­lib­er­ately lead to the death of the east coast fish­ery, Que­bec man­u­fac­tur­ing, On­tario’s auto sec­tor or B.C.’S forestry in­dus­try.

There would be jus­ti­fied out­rage in each of those prov­inces.

And yet, Al­berta and Saskatchew­an are be­ing called upon to ac­cept that they should be de­nied ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for their oil and nat­u­ral gas re­sources, cost­ing their econ­omy and Canada’s, up to $20 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

That’s be­cause with­out ready ac­cess to tide­wa­ter, and thus, to global en­ergy mar­kets, Canada’s land-locked fos­sil fuel re­sources must be sold at huge dis­counts.

While it’s true Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has bun­gled the en­ergy file, it’s also ab­surd for NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh, for ex­am­ple, to sar­cas­ti­cally re­peat the mind­less phrase, “you bought an oil pipe­line,” when­ever Trudeau talks about his ef­forts to re­duce Canada’s green­house gas emis­sions.

Trudeau’s prob­lem isn’t that he’s try­ing to build a pipe­line.

It’s that his heart isn’t in it, as re­vealed by his 2017 com­ment that Al­berta’s oil sands needed to be “phased out.”

That caused such an up­roar out west within two months Trudeau had flipfloppe­d, pro­claim­ing: “No coun­try would find 173 bil­lion bar­rels of oil in the ground and leave them there.”

While Trudeau was right the sec­ond time, what’s alarm­ing about this elec­tion is the pos­si­bil­ity of it end­ing with a Trudeau mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, re­ly­ing on the NDP, Greens and/or the Bloc Que­be­cois for po­lit­i­cal sup­port.

That would mean Canada would never build an­other pipe­line to ex­port our oil, sac­ri­fic­ing this huge mar­ket to coun­tries like Venezuela, even though our oil is cleaner, while spend­ing $3.5 bil­lion in 2018 alone im­port­ing oil from Saudi Ara­bia, one of the world’s worst hu­man rights vi­o­la­tors.

To be fair, El­iz­a­beth May’s Green party calls for Canada to end its im­ports of for­eign oil (as does Scheer) and meet its do­mes­tic needs by re­fin­ing it in Canada.

But only as a short­term ini­tia­tive with the goal of elim­i­nat­ing Canada’s oil sec­tor by 2050, ex­cept for sec­ondary uses in man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The re­al­ity how­ever, as Scheer notes, is that global oil de­mand is still ris­ing

— up 1.3% last year alone — and other coun­tries have no in­ten­tion of aban­don­ing in­ter­na­tional en­ergy mar­kets.

In the case of our largest trad­ing part­ner, the U.S., it’s in­struc­tive to re­call that while for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Trudeau were hav­ing their “bro­mance”, Obama re­fused to ap­prove the Key­stone XL pipe­line to get Al­berta’s bi­tu­men re­sources to the U.S. Gulf Coast, while he was at the same time boast­ing that un­der his ad­min­is­tra­tion, the U.S. had laid down enough new oil and gas pipe­lines to more than en­cir­cle the Earth.

The irony is if Canada is ever able to wean it­self off fos­sil fu­els, it will have to be fi­nanced, in part, from the prof­its of Canada’s en­ergy in­dus­try.

Which makes de­lib­er­ately un­der­min­ing that in­dus­try even more ab­surd.

SUN STAN Be­hal/toronto

Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer checks out all the hot news at the Toronto Sun yes­ter­day.

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