Three crucial, related news stories have dominated Canadian headlines for months nd you can expect to hear a lot more about them in future.
First, the COVID-19 virus has not only caused more than 8,000 Canadian deaths, but it’s crippled markets, impacted hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs and triggered an enormous need for an economic recovery right across the country.
Second, many of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples are increasingly expressing their strong vocal support for Canada’s natural resource sectors – especially oil and gas. They see a larger role for their community members in developing those resources as a means to lift themselves out of generational, systemic poverty.
Third, the Trans Mountain Expansion project has finally cleared all foreseeable legal hurdles after years of pubic consultations with Indigenous communities, repeated federal approvals and an urgent and continuing need for additional pipeline capacity so that Canada might finally obtain reasonable global prices for its oil and gas.
It’s no surprise these three front-page news stories are closely linked with each other. An economic recovery, more prosperous Indigenous communities and the construction of a much-needed pipeline are like three legs of the same stool.
Economists tell us that for 2019, nearly half of total Canadians exports of goods and services were supplied by energy, mining, agrifood and forest products industries.
In fact, Canadian energy exports alone – the huge majority of which were oil and gas-related – accounted for almost 20 per cent of Canada’s 2019 export earnings. It stands to reason that any recovery from the catastrophic pandemic will absolutely require strong oil and gas revenues.
That view was echoed recently by Honourable Seamus O’Regan, federal minister of Natural Resources, when he explained to a Calgary energy group that since oil and gas account for our largest exports, “the bottom line is the country is not going to recover unless the oil and gas sector recovers.”
It’s worth mentioning that over the last decade Canada has lost billions of dollars because of a lack of transmission capacity and the resulting discount on Canadian oil and gas in global markets. If we’re serious about a significant economic recovery, if we respect the aspirations of many Indigenous communities across the country who are seeking a place at the economic table, and if we’re encouraged by the fact Canada is a world leader in policies and practices around environmental, social and corporate governance in our natural resource sectors, then there’s reason for optimism.
Yes, we expect oil and gas demand will likely fall in 2020 as the global economy struggles through the current pandemic.
But make no mistake. The economy will recover. And when it does, we’re positioned to be the global energy supplier of choice.
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.