1968 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback. Did you drive one of these into the rhubarb?Photo by Bull-Doser – Own work., Public Domain, via Wikipedia
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11333665

 

I had the radio on in the office the other day, and I heard John Gormley on Newstalk 980. His guest mentioned the government promising to “build back better,” and he had some interesting takes on it. This got me to thinking. When I turn on the news lately, be it television, radio, print, internet or the coffee shop, “build back better” seems to be a phrase that is used extensively, especially by the government, Canadian or American. They all use this phrase with reckless abandon. I do believe they enjoy saying this because in their own minds (minds?) this is a form of job justification. “We will make things better!” they proclaim proudly, as if they have this great and wonderful plan. (A 12-step program could be more accurate, with apologies to anybody in recovery)

“Build back better.” It just sounds so positive, so progressive and so wonderful. “Don’t worry everyone; we will take care of you!” Kind of gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, like you’re curling up to the fireplace with your favourite beverage (coffee and Baileys at our home). But does it really?

Way back when I was a teenager, out here in the prairies of Saskatchewan, a bunch of us would pile into a car and go drive the country roads at night. A lot. We may have been looking for entertaining things to do. We’d be driving on some back road, when suddenly an asshole, usually from the back seat, would reach over and grab the wheel, yelling “This way!” as he yanked said wheel, sending the vehicle careening onto a side road. Hopefully it’s a road. (Note: every single bunch of friends had at least one asshole capable of this in their group. If you say no, you’re full of shit.)

Anyway, you are now sliding down some sketchy road or prairie trail, and next thing you know, you have a flat tire, suspension damage or a rock has invited itself into the oil pan for a look. So, while you and the gang are walking to a nearby farmers’, someone you hopefully know (this is pre-cellphone days, kids), you are trying to figure how y’all will get out of this potentially expensive mess. If only Bob hadn’t grabbed the wheel. But, the damage is done; so you get to a farmyard, befriend the dog and knock on the door. Soon you and your friends are eating perogies and cabbage rolls while your (angry) dad is driving over with a tow rope to get your car home.

Next week you find an oil pan at the wrecker’s and, with a little help, your 1968 Ford Galaxie is up and running and you move on with life. You even find a few other bits and pieces and your car is a bit better than before. (Your wallet is somewhat lighter though.) You banish Bob from future country cruises and life is good.

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The whole notion of “build back better,” quite honestly, pisses me off. As a race, this is all we’ve ever done. To say it is academic to me. The whole purpose of our existence is to do better and be better. My brother Murray has a thing he likes to say: “When people tell me they long for the good old days, I have one word for them, dentistry.” I agree with this wholeheartedly.

How does this relate to the energy industry? Glad you asked. This has been a recurring theme throughout the history of our industry. Nobody drills an oil well without blow-out preventers anymore. The oil doesn’t flow into open pits to be trucked away to the refinery. It is a clean operation, with new technology invented every year to make it safer to find the oil, drill for it and put it in production. Blow outs that claim lives, damage the environment and cost millions of dollars are nearly a thing of the past. We also use fewer resources and create less pollution than we did even 15 years ago. Talk about building back better.

It should also be noted if the rest of the world adopted the methods and best practices of the Canadian oilpatch, global emissions would be reduced by 25 per cent. Yes, 25 per cent. Not to mention carbon capture taking place right here in Saskatchewan. How about that? The country that does the best job of resource management is the one that some other countries and our current federal government wants to shut down. How is that “building back better?” (When Norway started their offshore projects, they asked Canadians for advice.)

Let’s not forget all the other things we are fixing. Take First Nations reconciliation, for example. Mistakes were made in a time so different from today. Terrible mistakes. But we are moving in the right direction. We continue to improve health and safety, develop clean technologies and new exciting ways to build a great future for the grandkids. The government may have some involvement, but make no mistake about who is doing the heavy lifting; it is individuals, the business community and creative intelligent people. And don’t erase history in the process. We can’t learn if we don’t know where we were. We will learn from and repair past mistakes as best we can. The politicians just need to stay out of the way and people will do the right thing.

I’m sure the politicians will continue to use slogans like “build back better” to remind you they are going to fix all the problems (mostly created by them). They will continue to grab the steering wheel at the worst possible moment (during a pandemic, or economic crisis for example) and yank us off into the weeds. Now we have to fix even more broken things. Nice going, “Bob.”

Let’s keep a firm hand on the wheel, going in a direction down the road that offers the best long-term course. It won’t always be the smoothest road, but it will get us all where we need to go. Remember, do your level best to keep the “Bobs” of the world away from the steering wheel, build on past mistakes and we’ll always “win some, learn some.”

Brian Crossman is a partner at Independent Well Servicing in Estevan. By the way, he knows many politicians that work hard and are trying to make things better. Some of the others need a “crash” course in basic economics.

 

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  • 0026 Buffalo Potash Quinton Salt
  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0015 Latus Viro PO Ad 01
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
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  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
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Gold Star Service shop burned in Alida on Jan. 8, approximately $2 million in damage

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Alberta’s wind and solar produced 1/10 of 1% of their total rated capacity on Wednesday night