With apologies to Charles Dickens: ‘Keystone XL was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Biden signed it: and Biden’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Keystone XL was as dead as a door-nail.’ And that, no matter what Premier Kenney might say, the way of it. As I said a few days ago what’s left, as far as that pipeline is concerned, is to pick up what pieces there are and put as much pressure as possible on the Biden White House to settle a NAFTA Chapter 11 suit quickly and generously.
But Keystone XL was, always, a second choice, anyway. Canadian oil producers want to get their product to Canadian seaports so that it can be sold by Canadians to the world. There were two projects that aimed to do that. The Northern Gateway project proposed to build a pipeline system connecting the Alberta oil-sands to the seaport at Kitimat, BC. The Government of Canada approved the project, subject to 200+ conditions, not one of which appeared to be a “game changer,” in 2014. In 2015, just days after taking office, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau imposed a tanker ban on BC coastal waters (but not on the St Lawrence River) which, effectively, killed that project. The Energy East project proposed to connect Alberta’s oil fields to refineries and seaports in Atlantic Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau announced that additional environmental conditions, which did not apply to any sources of foreign oil, would have to be met and that, effectively, killed that project, too. The demise of both projects was greeted, by and large, with either loud approval or quiet resignation in most of Canada.
Do we need pipelines?
No, not at all.
American companies will be happy to build (or extend) pipelines and rail lines to provide us with all the oil and gas for which we are willing/able to pay. When, not if, they run out of their own oil they will buy, up and reopen the Alberta oil sands and build the pipelines they need. I am convinced that some, actually rather a lot, of the well organized opposition to Canadian oil and gas production and distribution is paid for by US oil interests.
Should we want to fuel Canadians cars and trucks and trains and furnaces with Canadian oil and gas? Or is it better to haul Arabian or Iranian oil up the St Lawrence River in foreign tankers and then haul it around by train? Groups like the Tides Foundation (which has been renamed Make Way in Canada) certainly think so ~ they will go to almost any length to “landlock” Canadian oil and gas ~ not American oil and gas, as far as I can see, just Canada’s. And some Canadians want the same. It seems that in the summer of 2012 then Trudeau-Liberal supporter, now Minister of International Development Karina Gould used exactly those words …
… in a social media post she later deleted. Why is that? What is behind wanting to impoverish Western Canada’s oil producers while allowing the Americans to prosper?
If, as polls suggest, most Canadians, including most Quebecers, do want to use Canadian oil and gas to fuel their cars and heat their homes then why do Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau want to kill the Canadian energy industry? In President Biden’s case I think the answers are obvious:
- First, it’s a campaign promise he made to keep the left-wing of his party onside; and
- Second, the USA is, thanks to all the domestic pipelines built during the Obama-Biden years ~ “enough oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some,” President Obama boasted, pretty much self-sufficient, for now.
Prime Minister Trudeau is in thrall to Saint Greta Thunberg and the new, green children’s crusade to stop climate change. He seems only vaguely aware of where Alberta is and how pipelines work.
So, what should Erin O’Tool and the Conservative Party of Canada do?
Well, in my opinion, they should commit to driving pipelines to seaports and refineries on the Pacific, Atlantic and, perhaps, on the Hudson’s Bay coasts. The problem with that is that according to recent polling more than 70% of Canadians think that Justin Trudeau is doing the right things and doing things right on climate change and that includes his (and Joe Biden’s) opposition to building pipelines. Promising (and it would be a threatening sort of promise) to build pipelines in the national interest would likely cost the CPC seats in Québec and Ontario where, by my guesstimation, they need to gain a total of 25± seats (almost all from the Liberals) in order to form the majority Conservative government that Canada needs.
So, first promise a suite of polices that address global climate change on a global basis and promise that Canada will do its fair and full share to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Second, start preparing legislation to invoke the national interest to overturn any and all objections, including by special interest groups, provinces and some First Nations, to pipeline approval, and be ready to introduce it as soon as parliament convenes after a Conservative victory. The second step will allow the Government of Canada to keep its first promise by exporting cleaner, Canadian oil and gas to places that now burn coal.