Right in the centre - One has to wonder


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Note: By the time you read this column, Christine and I plan to be home from a 5,000 km road trip. It’s a trip that would not even be possible with an electric car. The federal governments in both Canada and the United States have their energy policies entirely wrong, but the warnings spelled out in this 2019 column have gone largely unheeded.

Given how much sense it makes to develop Canadian oil resources, one has to wonder why it is taking, or has taken, so long to get the job done. Canada exports a lot of oil, but it imports a lot as well. Why? It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, before we get too far along here, let it be said that electric heat and electric cars and trucks may well be the way everything will go someday. The key word is “someday”. We aren’t there yet, especially in rural and remote areas. Electric heat is well accepted, but gas heat is still more efficient and economical in most cases. Personal note: Our house has a 110-year-old steam radiator heating system, fired by a gas boiler and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s clean, efficient and a great source of heat. It is quick and because it’s radiant, it warms the whole house and everything in it, including us.

For vehicles, electric may be the way of the future, but it just isn’t feasible. Electric cars just won’t get us from western Manitoba to Winnipeg and back reliably without stopping for a re-charge. It’s just not efficient or convenient. We are told that electric trucks will also be the way of the future, but again, it’s just not there yet.

So, that brings us back to oil resources. We will need oil for a long time to come and so will the rest of the world. That begs the question as to why we don’t develop more of our own oil and cut back on imports. I suspect there are some shady reasons.

There are interests out there that would not profit from more Canadian (read western Canadian) oil. The Irving oil companies are heavily invested in refineries, but I believe they are heavily invested in shipping oil from overseas countries. If western oil was pipelined to the Maritimes, it could be that Irving companies’ shipping investment would suffer. I also believe that many U.S. companies don’t want Canadian oil coming into the states, as it would undercut their markets.

Internally, we have problems getting pipelines approved on an environmental basis. Instead, we risk transporting oil by train, which is way more risky. We bow down to every environmental group and to some First Nations communities to the extreme. Some FN communities want refineries and pipelines because it means economic growth. The latter are the smart ones, those objecting communities, not so much.

Pipelines, hydro lines, refineries and many other engines of economic development do not harm the environment. What does harm the environment is stagnated communities, ones without development and without hope, communities that can’t support themselves or their infrastructure.

Governments need to grow a spine and set a sensible economic course.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.