By: Gillian Davis
A Diverge Media contributor
Written On: 2022-03-12
The Ukraine/Russia conflict has been the catalyst for rising voices calling for energy self-sufficiency for nations capable of doing so. Canada is no exception. It is not the first time a crisis has brought these ideas to the fore. Environmental concerns have been the excuse for “phasing out the oil sands” – but does that really make sense? If Canada can produce enough energy here at home, shouldn’t we, rather than shipping imported oil across the oceans?
Is it time for a new national energy plan? Hasn’t Covid and the current crisis taught us that we need a nationalistic approach to our basic needs?
How Did We Get Here?
In 1973 and 1979 two energy crises hit the world hard. An oil embargo was brought on due to conflict in the Middle East which led oil exports from the region to be cut and prices rose by 70%. This caused high inflation and a shortage of oil supplies worldwide. Stagflation, a slowing of economic output and high inflation crippled economies in the late 70s to early 80s. Discussions in North America about oil conservation and independence began in earnest.
However, in the 1970s, development of Alberta’s oil reserves was just getting started. Canada as a whole is not energy self-sufficient and during this price shock it caused problems. While Alberta wanted to get a fair market price for its oil, the rest of the country was (and still is) paying high prices on imports.
Oil is a commodity that affects every aspect of the supply chain and modern life. Without reasonably priced fuel, industry grinds to a halt. So, while Alberta reaped the benefit of the oil shock in the 1970s, the rest of the country suffered.
In January 1976, Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government began Petro Canada operations with a $1.5 Billion start up fund and easy access to more capital. The justification for this crown corporation was for the Federal government to gain a foothold in the oil industry and ensure domestic supplies country-wide. He went on to implement the National Energy Program (NEP). This program was seen in the west as vindictive and went on to devastate the burgeoning oil industry in Alberta, causing an already fragile Canadian unity to spiral further into mistrust of the federal government by Aboriginals, Quebecois and Western provinces.
These maneuvers by the federal government were seen as a spiteful attempt to subjugate Alberta prosperity without respectful collaboration. A legal challenge was heard before the Supreme Court and it was ruled that the federal government had overstepped its bounds. The NEP started to fall apart, dying in 1984, though the scars still remain.
Could Canada be Energy Self-Sufficient?
The Canadian Energy Research Institute’s (CERI) 2018 report An Economic and Environmental Assessment of Eastern Canadian Crude Oil Imports shines light on the situation, making it clear Canada has the capacity to be energy self-sufficient as we consume less oil than is produced. The report also highlights, developing our natural resources would also lower GHG emissions as much as 6%.
So why do we still import a significant portion of our energy? It has a lot to do with a lack of federal pipeline approvals, insufficient upgraders and refineries, a lack of cooperation in trade between provinces, and a rabid environmental movement focused on the wrong things and heavily influencing the narrative.
Environmental Concerns and Counter Arguments
The clash between environmental activists and the rest of the world is growing. Acts of violence, blockades, censorship and willful ignorance have pitted people against each other in what should be open, respectful dialogue. Environmentalist David Suzuki recently promoted violence to stop projects. In February of this year, machete wielding activists injured workers and destroyed property on a gas project in B.C. In 2020 blockades were erected on roads and rail lines.
In 2019 a “Climate Crisis” was declared by governments around the world, including Canada. Each one simultaneously insisting their country is getting hotter, faster than any other country (despite evidence that the world is on a slightly cooling trend). It seems that if anyone dares to so much question or counter the narrative, they are demonized as a “climate denier”.
Dr. Patrick Moore, an environmental scientist and founder of Green Peace, is one of many formerly well respected experts who have been summarily de-platformed, cancelled and accused of being “paid-off” by oil companies. Such an accusation is hypocritical at best; billions of dollars are floated in the environmentalist movement which pays for protesters and its own research, while a well-funded media and lobbying campaign push their agenda.
Let us be clear, few are saying we don’t have environmental issues that need to be addressed – we simply have differing opinions on solutions. It makes far more sense to talk about these issues with open minds so that we can find workable, innovative solutions instead of merely screaming accusations that solve nothing.
I spoke with Peter Beyak, producer of the documentary film “Global Warning”, currently available on YouTube. The film is an eye opening dive into the hypocrisy and misleading information activists use, highlighting that we are focusing on the wrong issues while ignoring real experts. Our obsession with climate change and CO2 emissions ignores evidence. The shocking truth is that legitimate climate scientists have stated that the models being used are suspect and we should instead focus on conservation, building products to last, proper garbage disposal, and our fickle, wasteful consumer mentality. Our ignorance leaves us stuck chasing a myth.
Policies that have been introduced extract vast amounts of money through the use of carbon taxes and programs that fleece the individual while not investing that money into actual solutions. Large businesses are allowed to build products with designed obsolescence and the reduce, reuse, and recycle programs have become expensive and laborious.
Many people are unaware that green technology is insufficient at supplying our needs, nor how many products are petroleum-based, therefore, oil and gas cannot be ‘shut down’ anytime soon. They also do not consider the environmental impacts of shipping fossil fuels across the oceans when it is readily available at home. There is no consideration of how innovation and a mixed petroleum and green energy program, as highlighted by Dr. Vahrenholt in ‘Global Warning’, could be of maximum benefit for Canada and the world.
Alberta Oil and Gas has been on the bleeding edge of discovery using ethical, clean practises. If anyone truly cares about the environment, they should be a raving fan of the Alberta Oil Sands and encouraging further development. Instead, we have a situation where foreign interests, who financially benefit from shutting down Canada’s abundant and responsible resource industries, have convinced the masses (including our federal government), that this attack is all about the environment – which it is demonstrably not.
The places where the eastern provinces currently obtain some of their oil are well known for human rights violations and are not held to the same environmental impact standards we hold ourselves to in Canada. Again, if you want clean, ethical oil with the added benefit of energy independence within Canada – look no further than your own backyard.
In addition, many Aboriginal Reserves are pro-pipeline but ignored by pundits who buy into the feeding frenzy. Activists with foreign and domestic funds actively seek to divide us through lies, suspicion, hate and sometimes violence. Vivian Krause’s documentary “Over A Barrel” shows how devastating this process is to the Aboriginal community and to the rest of the country.
Recently, a UN committee declared that several energy projects in Canada must be stopped immediately because they are detrimental to Aboriginals. They claimed they did not know that many of these same groups fully support these projects. It must be pointed out that wealth creates independence and a position of power for the Aboriginal people. When these communities take the initiative to alleviate poverty, foster self-sufficiency, and give their youth hope for the future, their efforts are often thwarted by a federal and now international governing body that would rather maintain a paternalistic control over them. This is a mockery of reconciliation and equality within Canada.
A New National Energy Plan
If Covid and the Ukraine/Russia conflict have taught us anything, it is that being self-sufficient is vital in our complex world. With the world’s 3rd largest oil reserves, abundant natural gas and hydro power, Canada has the capacity to be energy self-sufficient. As Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta (WIPA) leader Paul Hinman explains regarding his mandate to ensure Alberta self-sufficiency, not just with energy but with food security, pharmaceutical and medical supplies and manufacturing, wouldn’t it be best “to not be subject to the winds of international crisis or market fluctuations”? Wouldn’t the same apply to Canada as a whole?
It seems that there is constantly some kind of crisis that threatens our way of life. Global supply chains, spread of a virus, food insecurity, and now an energy supply crunch, are taking its toll on the psyche of the populace. If we want a stable country, a stable and united society, doesn’t it make sense to create plans that will sustain us no matter what happens internationally? This plan, instead of being divisive like the national energy program of the past, could be something that will unite the country under one goal, one vision – to make Canada the self-reliant, respectful, and collaborative country it has the capacity to be.
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