Let’s stick to the facts

By Mark A. Scholz, President of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors

Oil Respect was launched in March 2016 and public support has been overwhelming. One of the campaign’s objectives is to provide regular Canadians with an opportunity to stand up for Canada’s oil and gas industry and the workers who make it run. It’s a goal that has attracted supporters from Victoria to St. John’s, which isn’t surprising.

Oil workers and oil families matter. The industry employs over 500,000 people, and everyone in the industry knows people who have lost jobs; a friend, a father, a daughter; more than 100,000 people unemployed because of the recent downturn. But oil workers aren’t just losing their jobs, families are losing their homes. It’s the worst slump since the 1980s, and soft oil prices aren’t the only problem.

Radical environmentalists, foreign celebrities, and grandstanding politicians continue to distort the record of Canada’s oil and gas industry, further imperiling job prospects for oil workers. Oil Respect is also about correcting the record against these exaggerations, half-truths and fabrications. If we don’t push back with the facts, bizarre ideas can take root in the media and among people in positions of influence.

For instance, many opponents of Canada’s oil and gas industry would have you believe that if Canada quit producing oil, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions would go down. This of course is untrue. Other nations would immediately step in to make up the extra production. In fact the current swoon in oil prices has been caused by increased production from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. Unfortunately, none of those countries meets the same strict carbon emission standards as Canada, not to mention Canada’s far-higher labour, safety and human rights standards. Despite this, imports of Saudi, Nigerian and U.S. oil are on the rise in Canada. We believe Canada would be better off in every way if eastern refineries were taking oil from Alberta instead of Algeria, but we need pipelines to do that. To put the argument the other way around, the world would be better off in many ways if a bigger share of the world’s oil production came from Canada.

Furthermore, the International Energy Agency projects that the world demand for oil will grow in the decades ahead. If so, doesn’t it make sense for that oil to come from a country like Canada? In the meantime, many companies are developing new ways to produce clean and renewable energy. In Canada the leaders in the production of wind and solar energy are also some of Canada’s largest oil and gas companies, such as Enbridge, Suncor, Shell and Trans Canada. Profits from oil and gas development and transport make that possible. Again, these are facts.

But the revenues from oil and gas development, transport, and processing help in other ways too. Not only do they come back to us in the form of profits in our RRSPs and to the Canada Pension Plan, they also provide billions of dollars in revenues to Canadian governments. On average, $17 billion a year comes from oil and gas to fund nurses, teachers, firefighters, and police officers. These are the facts of life in Canada and if we ignore them we risk basic government services.

Finally, it is a fact that the safest and most efficient way to transport oil, or any petroleum liquids, is by pipeline. Building pipelines also ensures that we can move Canadian oil to market, meaning better profits for companies, more revenues for governments and more jobs for workers. The proposed Energy East pipeline would mean a $14 billion shot in the arm for the Canadian economy. Trans Mountain would inject $9 billion, and all of that $23 billion dollars would be private money. Tens of thousands of workers would be employed without asking taxpayers to pony up. The much discussed “middle class” would benefit as soon as approvals were received. Again, these are facts.

Oil Respect ensures that regular Canadians, and the hard facts are at the forefront in the sometimes emotional, but entirely legitimate discussion about Canada’s use of our oil and gas resources. Help us get the attention of governments by signing the petitions at www.oilrespect.ca and by liking our Facebook page. Let’s fight together to protect and promote an industry that has done so much to make Canada the best country in the world.

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