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A Good Question From MP Charlie Angus. Now Ask It in the Context of Oil and Gas

Cody Battershill

There’s a lot of value in asking the right questions. Spend just a few minutes on any search engine and you’ll find hundreds of bright people who agree that posing the right question is more than half the intellectual battle. 


So, when NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus stands in the House of Commons and asks what I believe is exactly the right question, he deserves some credit: 


“Madame Speaker (), is the (federal) government going to outsource metal production to China or Congo, with its horrific human rights abuses, or will it support exploration in Canada where we have good wages, Indigenous consent and strong environmental standards?” 


It’s the right question because it shines a light on one of Canada’s world-class industries, mining, that makes enormous efforts to provide, in as sustainable a manner as possible, the metals society needs to face the future.  


As we all know, Canada’s reputation for global best practices in sustainability extends well beyond mining. Our agricultural sector, logging and forestry sectors, and fishing industry can all stand on their own as case studies in best environmental practices. 


But it’s our oil and gas sector that has made not just the largest contribution toward sustainability-related research and development, but toward our national economy. Globally, Canada is the fourth largest producer of crude oil, and fifth largest producer of natural gas.  


Greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil produced in the oil sands have fallen 36 per cent since 2000. Our environmental, health and safety standards lead the rest of the world by a comfortable margin. 


So, when Charlie Angus stands up in the House and poses the perfect question about outsourcing our mining opportunities “to China or Congo,” rather than keep those opportunities here where we hold ourselves to the highest social and economic standards, he could easily be talking about Canada’s exceptionally strong record as a supplier of responsible oil and gas. 


Canadian energy supporters know that global demand for oil and gas continues to rise. A series of polls conducted for our organization since November 2020 show an increasing majority of Canadians acknowledge the importance of our energy sector to the economy.  


They’re aware of the commitment Canada’s oil and gas sector has made to environmental, health and safety standards. And in many cases, they’re champions of responsible oil and gas development – the kind that benefits Canadians, not other less-regulated, less democratic regimes.  


And finally, we know world markets will obtain oil and gas and metals from somewhere.  


So, to Charlie Angus, I say this: As long as the Earth needs these important commodities, then keep asking those good questions, Mr. Angus. You’ll find both mining and oil and gas are vitally important for Canadian workers, families, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and the planet. 


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.