Home Business of Energy Kudos to Canada’s Municipalities for Encouraging Energy Fairness

Kudos to Canada’s Municipalities for Encouraging Energy Fairness

Cody Battershill

No matter how you slice it, suppliers that sell into a global energy market have earned the right to a fair shake and a level playing field.

For years, our organization has publicly encouraged Canadian policy makers at every level to consider taking a stand on Canada’s superb reputation as an oil and gas supplier.

We’ve suggested Canada deserves recognition for its strong commitment to environmental, social and governance standards that are as high as – or higher than – those of any of our competitors.

With our abundance of natural resources, our great wealth of technical knowledge, and our total commitment to environmental stewardship, safety and human rights, activists regularly block and oppose Canadian pipeline projects from reaching completion.

But those same activists turn a blind eye to less reputable regimes that supply Canada with energy products, all with apparent impunity.

Local governments see the big picture

I’ve made the argument before that this lack of fairness undermines our own energy security, threatens the resilience of Canadian workers, families and communities – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – and only hurts the global climate.

So it’s the perfect time to update readers on a key initiative that’s been underway for years among our hard-working municipal government officials and their Canadian network, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Kudos to Whitecourt councillor Paul Chauvet and his colleagues for really championing this important initiative.

The good news is the initiative, a resolution that calls on the federal government to promote and encourage the consumption of Canadian oil and gas as Canada transitions to net zero emissions by 2050, has passed and is now official FCM policy. Earlier this year, the finalized policy was sent in a letter from FCM president and Vegreville councillor Taneen Rudyk to Federal Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson.

Most importantly, the policy also calls on the federal government to ensure that all oil and gas that’s imported and consumed in Canada meets the same stringent environmental, governance and social standards that Canadian oil and gas producers must adhere to.

FCM president Rudyk points out in the letter to the federal minister that her organization has consistently supported Canada’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050, and that it “continues to encourage the federal government to put local communities in oil and gas producing regions at the very heart of energy and climate policies.

“Local leaders see up close how broad national challenges like climate change and economic uncertainty play out in people’s daily lives, and we know what is needed to meet these challenges on the ground, where Canadians live, work and raise their families,” Rudyk’s letter added.

One good thing leads to another

It’s been gratifying to see this important resolution gain the backing of Alberta municipalities from Lloydminster, Wood Buffalo and Flagstaff County, to Drayton Valley and Whitecourt – not to mention communities in B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario. With nearly 2,100 municipalities of all sizes representing more than 92 per cent of Canadians, the FCM is perfectly positioned to build a bridge between the views of local political leaders and federal policymakers.

It may even be the case that the FCM is already influencing its senior-level counterparts on how they think about energy. Here’s how Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland described the Canadian energy sector in a CBC interview a few months ago:

“It’s a good opportunity for me to point out to people across the country…our entire economy is reliant on the energy sector. The energy sector is such a big part of our GDP, it is a huge part of our exports, and it is very, very important for our current account balance. So I really understand the importance of the energy sector.”

It’s a positive development that the new FCM policy places the foreign producer on the same footing as the Canadian one. At the end of the day, it seemed reasonable to FCM delegates that, if Canadians are to be held to a higher standard, then there would have to be a level playing field for locally-produced natural resources to compete and to provide benefits to local families, communities, public programs and the planet.

Congratulations to the FCM for understanding that fair treatment of oil and gas in Canada means a competitive environment for Canadian product, and a better shake for the global environment, health, safety and human rights.

As long as the world is clamouring for oil and natural gas, then Canada, with its strong reputation for environmental, social and governance standards, has earned the right to full participation in meeting that demand.

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.