Sun Column: Stacking the deck against Alberta

The numbers are staggering.

Over the past several years, more than $40 billion in investment has fled Alberta’s oilsands, and our province stands to lose much more in the years to come.

The major players fleeing Alberta are hardly fly-by-night operators: we’re talking about some of the world’s leading companies, employing tens of thousands of workers with the knowledge and expertise to implement cutting edge technology.

These folks don’t cut and run on multi-billion dollar programs without just cause. So what has them so worried? It is the recognition that governments are stacking the deck against Alberta.

Take Justin Trudeau’s No More Pipelines Law, Bill C-69, the most damaging legislation to Alberta’s oil and gas industry since the National Energy Program. This bill completely overhauls the federal approval process for major projects like pipelines. These changes virtually guarantee that even if pipeline projects are approved, they will be tied up in the courts indefinitely.

According to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, this legislation makes it “difficult to imagine that a new major pipeline could be built in Canada.”

The red tape gets thicker. As the overland mining leases in the oilsands have already been awarded, the remaining oil must be collected using SAG-D (steam-assisted gravity drainage) technology. Under Bill C-69, all future SAG-D projects could require federal approval.

Even worse, as C-69 legislates a double standard against Alberta oil, measuring upstream carbon emissions for Canadian pipelines, but imposing no such hurdle on foreign-tanker oil. This is an amazingly good deal for our global competitors, who don’t pay a carbon tax.

Prime Minister Trudeau also stacked the deck against Alberta with his tanker ban, Bill C-48. This legislation only bans tankers that export Alberta oil for the northwest coast of BC, not those that import oil from foreign jurisdictions.

Because of decisions like these, today much of Alberta’s oil cannot reach world markets and now sells at a nearly 60% discount to our American competitors. That’s great news for President Donald Trump, not to mention the foreign CEOs cashing in our mistakes.

It is worth noting that if any other Canadian industry faced such a massive trade inequity, be it supply managed dairy, aerospace, or auto manufacturing, the federal government would be scrambling to offer compensation. However, the owners of Alberta’s oil are unlikely to ever see a dime.

You see, the abundant natural resources in Alberta’s oilsands don’t belong to the oil companies. It’s not the environmental activists’ oil. It’s not our foreign competitor’s oil. It’s not Premier Notley’s oil, and it certainly is not Prime Minister Trudeau’s oil. The deck is not being stacked against any of them.

Thousands of Alberta jobs and families depend on our oil and gas industry.

A strong oil and gas sector benefits all Albertans — and that’s who the deck is being stacked against.

You deserve better.

— Calgary-Foothills MLA Prasad Panda is UCP Energy Critic.