Laxer: Canada’s missing energy policy

Fresh off of getting cut off mid-presentation by an uptight Conservative, who we discovered later was only following orders, Gord Laxer makes his case:

Easterners could freeze in the dark

… while Canada, as part of our bilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative, supports U.S. efforts to wean itself off Middle Eastern oil, I noted that we do not have a NEP of our own.Indeed, Canada’s official goal is greater continental co-operation, at the expense of our own security of supply.

For example, in researching how Canada’s energy security would be affected by exporting more energy to the United States, I learned that Canada has no plans, or enough pipelines, to get oil to Eastern Canadians in the event of an international supply crisis.

Further, I was surprised that the government was not even studying Canadian energy security.

… Canada may be a net exporter, but it still imports 40 per cent of its oil – 850,000 barrels per day – to meet 90 per cent of Atlantic Canada’s and Quebec’s needs, and 40 per cent of Ontario’s.A rising share of those imports, 45 per cent, comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Meanwhile, imports from safer North Sea suppliers have shrunk to 37 per cent.

Many Eastern Canadians heat their homes with oil. Western Canada cannot supply all of Eastern Canadian needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans’ security of supply. Canada now exports 63 per cent of the oil it produces and 56 per cent of its natural gas.

… Of course, we don’t even have the pipelines to fully meet Eastern needs and, rather than address that domestic deficiency, five more export pipelines are planned.Strategic reserves help short-term crunches, not long-term ones. Eastern Canadians’ best insurance for a secure energy supply would be to restore the rule that was in place before the Free Trade Agreement ushered in the proportionality clause. This rule required that Canada have 25 years of proven supply before any export permit was approved.

Commitments under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, however, call for Canada to quicken environmental approval of tar sands exports, to establish more LNG terminals dedicated to export to the U.S. and to bring in temporary Mexican workers without permanent resident rights. These things will not help our energy security.

Instead, Canada needs to realize that security trumps trade interests, and that the tar sands’ production is Canada’s biggest contributor to rising greenhouse gases. All our efforts to cut our fuel use will be for nothing if the tar sands continue to be developed for export to the U.S.

… Canada must adopt a different national strategy – in partnership with the producing jurisdictions. The infamous 1980 National Energy Program had good goals – energy self-sufficiency, independence, domestic ownership, and security (not unlike the current U.S. program) – but it was imposed unilaterally.A new federal-provincial plan must raise resource rents so that producing regions can use the funds for their transition to a post-carbon economy.

One comment

  • This issue will play out big time over the next 20 years. It will end the Alberta Tories in time. If the NDP do not take the heat on the issue early the Liberals will eventually catch on and move in for the kudos. Great work by Gord.

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