In Alberta, even people who aren’t directly employed in the oilpatch know the price of oil, the names of pipeline projects, and who the major players are. It can be a bit of a culture shock when travelling outside the province and realizing that this isn’t routinely the case in Ottawa or Vancouver.
Yet the Canadian economy is very much tied to the success of this one industry. Our dollar ebbs and flows in large part with the price of oil in North America. While everyday people in other provinces don’t always know much about oil and gas, through the power of their votes, they wield enormous power over what the industry can do, which projects proceed or are stopped, and what policies get legislated into law by government.
The battle to inform Canadians about the importance of this industry has been the focus of some efforts on the part of industry associations and grassroots groups, yet completing major pipeline projects and generating widespread support for Canadian oil and gas remains a work in progress in some parts of our country. Previous campaigns have made the economic case for the benefits of Canada’s oil and gas sector. For example, Ontarians were pitched the argument that local manufacturing was helped by the demand from Alberta’s oil sands. We have also witnessed some politicians who have done a good job speaking about the economic opportunity that a strong Alberta oil patch affords the rest of the country.
However, rarely do we see pro-energy arguments which make an emotional appeal for our oil industry. As any astute observer of politics can tell you, most people vote with their hearts, not their heads, and are most persuaded by arguments and messages which speak to their emotions and values. An emotional case for oil exploration, pipeline infrastructure, and overseas exports must be made in the places that don’t think about these issues every day.
The Greater Toronto Area will likely determine the winner of the next Canadian federal election. If the Trudeau Liberals are re-elected with a majority government, the industry could face further barriers in the environmental assessment processes, an increase in the number of arbitrary tanker bans, and billions of dollars in investment put at risk with continued stalling or cancellation of major energy projects from a government that has said previously that it wishes to “phase out” Canada’s oil sands.
Metro Vancouver will decide that province’s next election outcome and whether that province continues to oppose pipeline development and delay liquefied natural gas projects until they are no longer economically viable or embraces the economic opportunity represented by a strong energy sector.
It’s time to make the case to people in both the GTA and in Greater Vancouver that Canadian oil and gas is good for our entire country.
Environmental extremists have done great work at getting their message into schools, advertisements, movies, the media, and the general consciousness of Canadians. Ordinary voters know about greenhouse gasses and reducing emissions; they’ve seen pictures of birds and fish covered in oil, heard the pleas of Hollywood celebrities, and witnessed (paid) activists illegally blockading every major project in the name of protecting our planet.
Very few of them have seen the amazing technology and hardworking people that develop our natural resources and work daily to innovate new technologies to protect our environment. Not enough of them have seen the countless jobs the oilpatch provides to some of Canada’s most economically downtrodden, and the funds our energy sector has generated which support social programs in each and every province across Canada.
Every picture of a duck in a tailings pond that the environmental radicals push out should be countered with a story of a recently graduated engineer who is now jobless or had to leave the energy sector to find work. Every picture of an open pit mine should be countered with a picture of a hospital in Quebec or a school in Nova Scotia paid for by wealth from Canada’s energy sector.
With hard work and a renewed focus, the oil and gas industry can help Canadians realize how much they matter to everyday Canadians. Bashing the oil sands or opposing pipeline development should be outside the mainstream, not the official platform of either the Government of BC or indeed the Government of Canada.
Canadians for Democracy and Prosperity is committed to ensuring that everyday people across Canada think more about our energy sector and the benefits it brings to Canada. We know that a vibrant energy sector is linked to a prosperous Canada. And we know that unless everyday people feel an emotional connection to Canadian oil and gas, governments will continue passing bad legislation like bills C-48 and C-69 without fear of political consequence.
We believe we are well-positioned to advance this message—we’re experienced grassroots campaigners who have successfully advocated for important causes at all levels of government.
We’ve helped change the narrative at Calgary’s City Hall—where once resistance from everyday Calgarians to tax hikes and ever-encroaching green initiatives was left to a few columnists, councillors now quake in their boots knowing a grassroots army will be after them for any vote to hike spending. We also helped create conservative unity here in Alberta by strongly advocating for the merger of the PC and Wildrose par ties into a single, principled, conservative alternative to the NDP.
Today, we’re focused on changes being made to the electricity grid, choice in education, and reforming our labour code along with defending the energy sector. We’ve developed training courses for energy sector employees so they can counteract the misinformation and be the first line of defence for our ethical industry.
We’re passionate about the industry that drives Alberta and Canada forward. It’s time to make that case to the voters whose actions will determine the long-term development of our energy sector, the economic engine of our province and our country.