by Greg McLean
Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre and the Official Opposition Deputy Shadow Minister of National Revenue.
I would love to be the fact-checking editor on any opinion put forth by Elizabeth May and Yves-Francois Blanchet. The extensive corrections would make the submission unfit for printing.
I’ve been a Member of Parliament for six months and my background in finance and energy is an asset that my constituents believed would allow for the introduction of more sense into the discussion on the role of the oil and gas industry in Canada’s economy and its environment. The wall of disinformation that resonates amongst Canada’s political class is high.
Ms. May cannot back away from her environmental soapbox without negating her life’s work. Facts be damned!
Mr. Blanchet is an easy ally for the anti-Canadian energy messengers. His role in the current minority Parliament is to backstop the Trudeau Liberals’ policies that are dividing this country, with no regard for the consequences to Canada of the policy failures that will arise as a result of this Government’s policy misdirection.
There is no doubt the current crisis – health and economic – has hit our oil and gas industry harder than most – largely because of an international price war that commenced concurrently with the COVID-19 crisis. The economic carnage experienced by companies that operate in a competitive environment has been devastating. Recognize that these companies represent a minority of the oil and gas produced in the world; the majority is produced by state-owned entities – producers backed by their governments: governments that recognize the importance of these energy commodities, and that also recognize the motivation of state-owned enterprises using pricing mechanisms to control the market to their own advantage.
Canada is the envy of the world for its energy profile. We also share with Norway the reputation of being the most environmentally-friendly producer in the world. Our environmental leadership is a mark of pride, internationally, yet seems to be little understood in our own country.
The comparison with Norway is apt. Although their oil and gas resource base is smaller than Canada’s, they continue to develop new fields, in expensive offshore locations – while amassing a $1.1 Trillion national wealth fund from their resource base (which likely holds some of Canada’s ever-mounting national debt). Interestingly, this week, the Government of Norway stepped forward to provide financial assistance to its industry to withstand this short-term commodity pricing meltdown. Norway understands the importance of oil.
I sense that the Finance Minister knows that there is no way to deal with the growing fiscal mess without the oil and gas industry. There are no revenue alternatives for the federal government to replace the billions of dollars the industry provides annually to the benefit of all Canadians. I am certain he knows – and Canadians need to know – that the social cost of ‘shrinking’ Canada’s oil and gas industry will require cuts to services Canadians have come to expect . Once we kill all the chickens, we will no longer be eating omelets.
I have presented solutions to Minister Morneau – solutions that will benefit our country. With the long-term value evident in our oil and gas asset base, win-win solutions are more easily facilitated than in those parts of our economy that will require a bailout post-crisis. This industry does not need a bailout – it needs a liquidity bridge.
The problem with the political narrative about the energy industry is that it is being driven by people who know nothing about energy. Ms. May and Mr. Blanchet personify this information void. Canadians will recognize that we have a highly educated, scientific community clustered around our energy industry. That scientific expertise and input should not be ignored.
Canada will emerge from the current crisis. But we will do so based upon our own strengths. Our strategic resources – food and energy production, along with a well-educated, ambitious population – holds us in good stead to return to prosperity and provide for a productive, cohesive nation. There are future costs and much danger – economic, environmental, and international – to ignoring our historic leadership in these strategic industries.
As for the nonsense put forth by Ms. May and Mr. Blanchet, we need to call it what it is.
Greg McLean is the Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre and the Official Opposition Deputy Shadow Minister of National Revenue.