Joe Oliver: Yet more proof foreign radicals (yes, radicals) are sabotaging Canada’s economy

Joe Oliver: Yet more proof foreign radicals (yes, radicals) are sabotaging Canada’s economy

We’ve reached a crisis resulting from unrelenting opposition to pipeline construction, abetted by foreign funding and a federal government obsessed with green ideology

Special to Financial Post

Joe Oliver

March 13, 2018
9:08 AM EDT

pipeline protest
People recently gathered to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project at the Kinder Morgan tank farm in Burnaby, British Columbia.Courtney Pedroza/The Seattle Times via AP

 

The latest proof is in, although the facts have been obvious for many years. Foreigners are financing and organizing opposition in Canada to natural resource development, part of an anti-fossil-fuel campaign that is costing our economy an estimated $15 billion this year, due to lack of access to international markets, and much more in lost capital investments.

Perhaps the most recent little gem will finally get the chattering class to acknowledge reality: A leaked U.S. document preparing mass-action protests against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. It sets out goals and operating principles for a clandestine organization designed to drive political resistance under the guise of an independent rank-and-file protest movement.

“Action Hive Proposal” was written by Cam Fenton, an employee of 350.org, a California-based NGO “building a global grassroots climate movement.” Using insect analogies (theirs, not mine) the “Hive” contributes money, action and organizational experience and technical know-how, while a “Swarm” will generate mass action. Fenton is explicit about its “Purpose & Shared Goals: This group is coming together to support mass popular resistance to construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

This is not the only U.S. organization devoted to blocking development of Canada’s oil and gas reserves that, incidentally, would compete with America’s own resources. Vivian Krause, a Vancouver-based researcher and writer, has documented the money funnelled through Tides Foundation, New Venture Fund and the Oak Foundation to impede Canadian hydrocarbon growth, especially the oil sands.

These organizations are bolstered by a coterie of narcissistic celebrities whose vacuous certainty is outdone by their ignorance of science and economics and their extravagant carbon-intensive lifestyles.
 All this brings to mind when, as minister of natural resources, I wrote an open letter labelling certain environmental groups as “radicals,” financed in part by non-Canadian donors. The derisive outcry was deafening from media, opposition parties, ENGOs and even a few timorous senior executives in the oil and gas business.

I once challenged any environmental organization to name a single project it supported

I defined radical as opposition to every major resource project. Moreover, I issued a challenge to any environmental organization to name a single pipeline project that it supported. The silence was deafening. Possibly because my definition sounded too reasonable, the media never reported on my explanation of the definition or the challenge, which I reiterated numerous times.

What I said was factual then and has been conclusively proven to be true over the past six years. Trying to shut down fossil-fuel development is not viewed as radical to many environmentalists, even though the economic consequences would be disastrous. Or perhaps it was impolite in Canada to use the “r” word. It was obviously politically incorrect.

Irrespective of terminology, we have undoubtedly reached a crisis resulting from unrelenting opposition to pipeline construction, abetted by foreign funding and a federal government obsessed with green ideology.

It is telling that opponents are unimpressed by governments’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They understand that Canada cannot make a meaningful difference to international emissions, since our output represents only 1.6 per cent of the global total. Their focus is on the oil sands, which they claim can measurably add to the global supply of oil, so keeping fossil fuels in the ground is their goal. The fact the oil sands only represent a minuscule one-thousandth of global emissions makes it the wrong target. But symbolism is everything.

Militants are indifferent to the terrible damage they are inflicting on our economy, First Nations and the poor, all without any measurable impact on global warming. Further, they assert that Canada has a moral responsibility to make costly but ineffective sacrifices, even though other countries are not doing their share.

The B.C. government’s campaign against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proves there is no point in succumbing to extortionate demands or making costly concessions to achieve an elusive social licence. The goal posts keep moving. By now, that must be evident even to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and federal Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr, though they will never admit it.

At what point might Kinder Morgan headquarters in Houston cancel the project in frustration with its mounting financial and reputational risk? That would landlock Canada’s energy for a very long time, a disastrous result, which is the goal of opponents. It is time for Parliament to declare the pipeline a work “for the general advantage of Canada,” thereby removing most dilatory tactics (but not social resistance). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should also tell foreign agitators to butt out of Canadian affairs.

Joe Oliver is a former minister of finance and of natural resources.

 

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on March 14, 2018, in economic impact, oil, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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