If the Oil Sands Were in Quebec, Canada Would Be Outproducing Saudi Arabia

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: There are a lot of peculiarities about Canada that foreigners do not understand and residents shamefully ignore. For one, Canada is one of the biggest money laundering countries in the world.  Ask any person on the street about the dangers of corruption and he or she will point to places overseas, oblivious to the extensive graft in Canada. Graft and corruption exist at every government level and in every region of Canada. But the governments choose to overlook these things. Coupled with outright incompetence, Canada does not look good for common folks striving to make a better life.

With respect to ignoring corruption, a good example is in British Columbia (B.C.). There have been three investigations across two governments, culminating with the Cullen Commission in 2022 which concluded that money laundering in B.C. is a major problem at the casinos and adversely pushes housing prices past affordability for middle class residents.

In terms of incompetence, right after the Pandemic, city councilors in Calgary gleefully and rapidly approved the most expensive light rail transit expansion possible and then, even more quickly, approved a subsidiary of SNC Lavalin to manage the expansion. The Calgary city councilors did not even consider the very bad experience and huge cost overruns that the City of Ottawa had when it selected an SNC Lavalin subsidiary for Ottawa’s LRT expansion. In Canada the political class has long since given up doing what’s best for Canadians and instead does what’s best for the political party and their hired consultants / contractors / retirement firms. Canada is not strong and not free despite the lyrics in its anthem.

Fortunately, Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and to date, the export of those resources has managed to sustain the national economy fairly well. Alberta is home to the world’s 4th largest confirmed oil reserves. If we scoot a little bit east to Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan has over 40% of the productive farmland in Canada. Saskatchewan farmers contribute greatly to the world’s supply of grains and pulses, and Saskatchewan is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of specialty crops such as mustard seed, herbs and spices. In Canada, the renewable energy generated by solar and wind in Alberta and Saskatchewan dwarfs Ontario and Quebec (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Installed Renewable Power per Resident (sources: Canada Energy Regulator, Alberta.ca)

An “unfortunate” side effect of Global Warming is that Saskatchewan will be able to produce even more food crops in the future. Side by side then, in Western Canada, you have two global powerhouses of energy and food. What could be wrong with that?

The greatest evil, according to the Federal Liberals and about 70% of the electors in Ontario and about 85% of the electors in Quebec (the East), is Alberta; Saskatchewan is also frequently tainted with Alberta’s guilt (the West). Why this enmity? Primarily because the princes of privilege in Ottawa, the Laurentian elites, do not have control over Alberta’s vast energy resources and Saskatchewan’s vast agriculture resources. Thus, they introduce legislation to cut fertilizer inputs for farmers and fumble about delaying the  building of pipelines to bring substantial Canadian energy resources to global markets. Planned incompetence can be a useful political tool.

While the world’s oil economies (Norway, Iraq, Brazil…) strive to produce more oil and gas to supply global demand and earn foreign income for their respective coffers, in Canada the Federal Liberals proclaim the lack of a business case for Canada and try everything possible, short of sending in tanks, to shut down the oil and gas fields. “Zero gas emissions by 2035!“is impossible without collapsing the entire Canadian economy.  “We must cut carbon emissions!” is also impossible as long as Justin Trudeau jets around frivolously

When the previous, Conservative Harper government was in power there were caucus discussions about policies regarding domestic supply management. During such discussions the caucus Members of Parliament (MPs) from the western provinces were told that polling in their ridings indicated that the party stance on certain controversial issues that favored the East would only cost the western MPs a few points in their constituencies. (Sources withheld, somewhat.) Consequently, Canada lost its Wheat Board which supply managed the grains output in the West, but kept the Dairy boards which supply manage milk production in every province though most notably in Quebec and Ontario.

During the first tenure of the JustinTrudeau administration Liberal MPs from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were told that there would be no way in hell that the Liberal party would approve the Energy East pipeline through Quebec. (Sources withheld again, somewhat.) The Energy East pipeline was meant to carry natural gas from Western Canada to the Atlantic provinces to displace coal from being burned in power plants in Nova Scotia and to start LNG exports to the world.

In both examples, central political party and elitist fancies outweighed the benefits of Canadians: Namely loosening of supply management to reduce consumer prices and displacing carbon intensive coal burning with much lower carbon emitting natural gas while also generating large foreign income.

The cases of outright East bias in Canada are way too numerous to list in this blog, but some unique and bitter examples follow.

  • When the Federal Conservatives sold Atomic Energy Canada Ltd (AECL) to SNC Lavalin for below market value in 2012, by gosh for sure, the Federal Liberals stood up in 2019 to defend SNC from 1 internal corruption charge while ignoring the over 100 foreign corruption charges and convictions.
  • When Montreal port workers went on strike in 2021, it took the Federal Liberal government only 1 day to legislate the workers back. When the Vancouver dockworkers went on strike this year, the Federal government thought for a week before appointing a mediator.
  • During the early days of the pandemic, when a Calgary medical research firm developed a vaccine and asked for federal funding support to rapidly scale vaccine manufacturing, the Federal Liberals instead threw money into Quebec for a facility that never opened and never manufactured one vaccine dose.
  • When the State of Michigan threatened to shut down the environmentally dangerous Line 5 pipeline, the Federal Liberals went on the diplomatic warpath with misinformation proclaiming the necessity of the pipeline to the American Midwest (see OWOE, Bloomberg ).
  • When various government agencies in Washington or corporations on Wall Street aspire to access Canada’s vast mineral resources to facilitate and accelerate the clean energy transition, they delude themselves in thinking that any new mine in Canada can be approved quickly enough to matter.

Most recently there have been two significant pronouncements by the federal Liberal government in Canada pertaining to massive subsidies for EV battery plants. The first of these was the Stellantis deal of approximately $15 billion in outright grants to produce EV battery systems in Windsor, Ontario. This was soon joined by the announcement for $13 billion in outright grants to Volkswagen for another EV battery plant in  St. Thomas, Ontario. This amounts to each of Canada’s 16 million workers subsidizing about a thousand jobs in the East by around $1750. Here’s the funnier thing: Those EV battery plants are intended for production of lithium-ion batteries which are about to be outdated technology.

This is not a new or rare occurrence in Canada for the governments too often throw good money after old technology. In 1832 Canada opened the Rideau Canal between Ottawa (Bytown) and Kingston to support internal trade and defence. in Canada of course the canal froze over half the year, so it was only effective for a few months out of the year. Concurrently around the rest of the world railroads, which can be used year-round, began popping up everywhere.

Canals before trains; lithium-ion before solid state; graft before prosperity.

EVERY Liberal government decision is made on the basis of vote gain / loss to maintain power and to fiscally benefit the East as much as possible. No decision in Canada is made to benefit the general population. That is why talk in Washington about the vast, critical to the energy transition, mineral deposits in Canada is futile as no mine in a Liberal governed Canada will be approved for at least 25 years, not until every vote is analyzed beforehand and not unless it fills the pockets of the princes of privilege. EVERY Federal government decision is made on how to best protect the parliamentary seats in Ontario and Quebec. If Ontario had the agricultural potential of Saskatchewan, Ottawa would not be pressuring farms to cut fertilizer use. And yes, if the Oil Sands were in Quebec, Canada would be out-producing Saudi Arabia.

Vive l’Alberta Libre

VIve le Saskatchewan Libre!


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