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A Letter to Incoming President Joe Biden – Heidi McKillop and Terry Etam

Dear Joe:  Aside from burning down the Whitehouse in 1814, we’ve been pretty good neighbours

We can’t call you President Joe, not quite yet, even though it appears the Donald has finally thrown in the towel. Wow, he went out with a bang, didn’t he? But on to bigger things. We wanted to send you greetings from Canada.

Since you’re new to the helm, and international relations have never been more important, we’ll start off with an apology, for that burning of the White House thing, a long time ago. Sorry about that. You know what it’s like sometimes in the heat of war, you just get carried away, and then Oops. We’re not going to make a single joke about whether or not you personally saw the flames in 1814, we just want to move on. We need to work together internationally as much as we can.

Why is that so important? For one huge reason, there’s energy, Joe. Yes, there sure is a great race on to go green, and the environment is beyond important. But it’s also important to have a good look around the world, where energy demand trajectories are pointing up, and billions of people need all the energy they can get, of all kinds.

That is why you are seeing some odd alliances, Joe. Never in history have, we seen such co-operation between super giants Russia and China. These two are both notoriously nationalistic, aggressive, and supreme strategic thinkers. They can see the writing on the wall, that the west is chasing the hydrocarbon industry into the grave, and rest of the world – all those billions of people – will be fighting for whatever they can get. That is why Russia is pumping 230 billion dollars into arctic oil development, while we pile on arctic ban after arctic ban. China’s hydrocarbon consumption continues to rise, and they are just getting started. Same as India, and other eastern countries, and Africa.

These burgeoning relationships will form a perfect storm over here. North American hydrocarbon consumption is going to be huge for many decades, but we won’t have industries to provide it. We will get it from elsewhere in the world, where supply and demand are wrapped up with a pretty bow of non-transparent environmental, social and governance opacity. It is clear that natural resource development in Canada and the United States is being dictated by the International community, in such a manner that will become a huge problem down the road.

Let us get back to the wildly successful relationship between our two countries, with the world’s longest undefended border. Canadians and Americans have been blessed with peace between our countries for many, many generations. Not since that war of 1812 have we invaded each other’s borders. Though Canada wasn’t officially a country then, British troops retaliated against US attacks by burning down the White House in 1814. We kind of feel responsible, you know, even though it was before Canada existed. Since then, we have formed a great and unique partnership. This agreement and relationship has expanded into many cultural similarities, from technology, restaurants, automotive, natural resource trade, etc. One could argue our economies are so integrated that we wouldn’t be able to separate, even if we wanted to. This strong relationship between our countries is completely dependent on the co-operation and transparency we hold dear to our values as democratic countries.

It may be worth your while then to reconsider what is supposedly your first move as President – the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Yes, it did become a lightning rod for the climate change movement half a decade ago, and yes, you promised those folks you would jump to cancel it as soon as you could. But it’s not unheard of for a politician to “reconsider” a hasty promise, right? Somewhere in your new cabinet maybe you will find someone to explain this to you clearly: many of your refineries love Canadian heavy oil. Those refineries were built to take advantage of Venezuelan and Mexican heavy oil, but they just can’t get that stuff anymore. Mexican production has been falling for a decade, and Venezuela, well, good luck with that. Maybe someone in your crew will also be able to explain that all that shale oil is light oil, and not in high demand in your country, which is why you export so much of it, and bring in the heavy stuff. The stuff that your strongest and closest trading partner has in spades. Together, the US and Canada can form an economic powerhouse like no other, driven by access to reliable, relatively cheap energy whose production is scrutinized for best practices like nowhere else in the world.

Like all good relationships, it is a give and take mentality that makes us stronger. While our bureaucrats are over here bickering at each other, fighting to keep these resources undeveloped, the international community is looking at our relationship as “has-beens”. We are the old alliances’ post-WW1 and WW2. We no longer live in an era where we can make these fatal development mistakes. The world is looking at us to falter and for these old alliances to die so new accords can be struck. Hence China and Russia wait patiently to see this happen. The world is a competitive and hostile place in the world of business. But where it’s needed, these things get done. Did you know that, a few years ago, mortal enemies Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and India got together to cooperatively build a natural gas pipeline that bisected all their countries? They can put down weapons and ancient animosity to secure fuel supplies for all, and we can’t because of…what?

Some specific groups will say, “This is a good thing”, or “Keep oil in the ground”. Let Russia and China make ESG mistakes, we will hold ourselves to a different standard. The fundamental flaw in this logic is that if we falter on global demand for any type of natural resource, you can guarantee another country like Russia or Saudi Arabia will meet that demand. When we cut off our ability to supply, that does nothing to the world’s ability to demand. They are unrelated. Not only do we lose out on keeping revenue “in house” but we are also allowing these already powerful countries to become more powerful. How does that progress international standards of human rights?

So, Mr. Biden as you can see, this relationship is important for North American Energy security. I am sure you probably didn’t get the same impassioned speech on your phone call with Prime Minister Trudeau, so please instead take heed to what matters most in politics, the people!

By: Heidi McKillop and Terry Etam

Terry Etam and Heidi McKillop host an energy podcast called “A Stranded Nation”. The Podcast is found on Apple podcast and Spotify.


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