November 06, 2015 - 12:56 PM
Yesterday, Nov. 5, the country was still fawning all over new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his new cabinet, his quip about 2015 and gender parity and fancy new names for federal portfolios. Many Canadians felt some sense of pride, perhaps some relief, some hard-earned respite from a long divisive election campaign of fighting with our neighbours, friends and family — and whether you support the Liberals or not — it just felt like a proud Canadian moment.
Remember that moment from yesterday, because it’s over.
Today, U.S. President Barrack Obama seriously limited Canada’s options for how it gets its oil to market by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline that would have taken Alberta oil — Canadian oil — directly to the U.S. And how Canada responds is likely going to be the next major election issue.
From a Canadian perspective, Keystone was probably our best option, perhaps because it had the greatest likelihood of success and that’s saying something considering it just failed. (At least for now. Who knows with American politics.)
That leaves us with… oh, wait, perhaps I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. That is well established, isn’t it? That we absolutely must get our oil to market? That we must build a pipeline from Northern Alberta to somewhere?
Because if you bought into this panacea that pipelines are The Devil, you need to shower off the froth from the prospect of dumping an unpopular Prime Minister and whatever else you got on you when Trudeau was elected. You may associate oil and pipelines with Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party but oil and access to markets remains a vital lifesign for this entire country.
Much of the oil sands is already under development, the environmental damage largely done and done for absolutely nothing if we can’t move it. We are getting just a fraction of the value for what is arguably Canada’s most valuable resource — we’re essentially giving it away — and we won’t get full value until we get it to market. Saying no to pipelines means saying no to oil and gas, its revenues and all the social programs it pays for.
Today, the U.S. Vice-President told the world our oil is dirty. I would have expected our new Prime Minister to be a little more candid in his response. I would have hoped our Prime Minister would recognize the U.S. is also a competitor in world oil markets and they just called down our competing product. He should remind Obama how dirty his country's reliance on coal is. Or how much oil the U.S. still imports from countries with blood on their hands and I don’t mean from a few ducks.
Instead, Trudeau simply said he is disappointed but Canada understands. That’s not going to quell any fears that Junior is going to be any less destructive to oil interests than Trudeau Senior.
Here’s what I understand: Trudeau himself has ruled out the Trans Mountain pipeline to B.C.’s Lower Mainland and I can't say that's a bad decision. Given his rhetoric, perhaps he counts out Northern Gateway as well. Now that Keystone is off the books, that essentially leaves us with Energy East, a massively expensive undertaking to move oil all the way to Ontario and Quebec and still no assurances that one route can get done.
But get done it must. Go ahead, figure out alternative fuel sources, focus on efficiency, that all makes sense to me. But in the 30 years it will take to build out that energy source — if you find it and it doesn’t in turn cause more damage than our oil — we know we still need oil.
The question is do we have a Prime Minister who can make it happen. I hope so. Otherwise all that work, all the revenue, all that devastation in the Alberta north will be for absolutely nothing.
— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infonews.ca
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015