Another missed opportunity — it cannot be described any other way.The recent meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden lacked the substance that Canadians need right now. At a time when Biden is pushing “America First” policies and threatening Canada’s energy security with pipeline shutdowns, our prime minister seems woefully absent on these issues.According to his own statement, the prime minister did not even mention Line 5 or Canada’s energy security. With Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer threatening to cut off more than half of Ontario and Quebec’s oil and gas supply, Canadians need a strong voice in Ottawa. Canada’s energy independence and our economy are at stake — and our nation needs a prime minister who defends them.
This was their second meeting, and the second missed opportunity. Trudeau never directly addressed the impacts of a Line 5 shutdown: Potential job losses and negative effect on the environment resulting from alternate methods of transporting the needed oil.
Instead, both statements have plenty of talk about combating climate change. Trudeau’s goal to reduce Canada’s emissions is worth pursuing and achievable — but he has presented no credible plan.Over the next 20 to 30 years, Canadians will continue to rely on oil to heat our homes in the cold winters and to power our supply chains. While we work towards our climate targets — which many Canadian petroleum companies are already doing — we need to bear in mind our actual current energy needs.Understandably, the main topics of conversation between Biden and Trudeau were the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-COVID recovery. What the prime minister seems to miss when he touts his economic recovery ideas is this will inevitably revolve around trade, natural resources, and most importantly jobs.Canada’s No. 1 export is crude petroleum, refined petroleum ranks fourth. If Trudeau is serious about rebuilding the economy post-COVID, he should be supporting our most important industries. The petroleum sector creates jobs nationwide — the effect of shutting down this industry cannot be underestimated.And let me be clear. Energy security and jobs are not just an Alberta problem — this is a Canada-wide problem.
While the Liberal political calculus may see Biden’s shutdown of Keystone XL as an Alberta issue which does not affect their electoral aspirations, Line 5 is entirely different.
Line 5 not only supplies half of the oil and gas in Ontario and Quebec, but also sustains thousands of jobs at the refineries in both provinces. These labourers, and indeed their families, communities and provinces as a whole, can ill-afford such job losses.
Before the last conversation between Trudeau and Biden, I had penned a memo to the prime minister with some suggested topics of discussion. Those suggestions were ignored, as best I can tell. Now, after the second discussion between the two leaders, I see a second missed opportunity to address these critical issues which concern many, many Canadians.
The prime minister continues to shy away from the tough conversations Canadians need him to have and instead focuses on the talking points which play best to his base. What he misses is that a disruption in Line 5 supply would have disastrous economic consequences in the vote-rich GTA and his home province.
I’m sure there will be a third conversation between the leaders in the next couple of months. Hopefully this time there will be no more missed opportunities. As the old rule goes, three strikes and you’re out.
— Michael Binnion is executive director of the Modern Miracle Network
EnergyNow is an online energy news and data media service dedicated to providing essential up to-date information on the Canadian oil & gas industry.
We provide live feeds designed to help energy professionals, field personnel, business owners, and senior business leaders get the latest energy news and data, energy industry press releases and energy job and event listings.
Help us to improve EnergyNow, Give us your feedback