The citizens of Saskatchewan got a harsh reminder of their province’s second-tier status in Confederation after Premier Scott Moe took to the airwaves expressing his displeasure with the climate policies announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the COP26 UN conference in Glasgow.

Ottawa’s official press release said Canada’s contribution to fighting the climate threat would include “accelerating the phasing out of conventional coal-fired electricity for our country by 2030” and becoming “… the first major oil-producing country moving to capping and reducing pollution from the oil and gas sector to net zero by 2050 … and will also ensure that the sector makes a meaningful contribution to meeting Canada’s 2030 climate goals.”

While not mentioned by name, this was aimed directly at Saskatchewan, which gets 31 per cent of its electricity from coal, another 43 per cent from natural gas and has daily oil production in the same league as OPEC’s three smallest producers.

At COP26 and the G20 meeting in Rome that preceded it, Trudeau was praised for making Canada the only major oil and gas producing country in the world with a carbon tax, and the only big hydrocarbon producer to target this specific industry with an emissions ceiling.

Is that actually leadership? Or something else?

Can Canada alone save the world?

The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where most of Canada’s oil and gas is produced, and where voters elect the fewest Liberal MPs, were deeply concerned with Trudeau’s announcement. On the emission cap there has been no consultation, no plan, no measurement, no timelines and no compliance mechanism.

In the spirit of a “just transition,” Trudeau announced his government was “… putting in place investments of more than $185 million to support coal workers and communities through the transition to cleaner energy.”

Shared among the other coal-fired generating provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, this is a modest amount of financial support to replace 31 per cent of Saskatchewan’s electricity generation.

Classic Trudeau, a combination of progressive politics with strong woke overtones.

I’ll call it proke. It rhymes with broke.

  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0020 Sk Oil Show PO Ad 02 speakers with voiceover
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0017 eventworx
  • 0016 Estevan Meter Services
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0015 Latus Viro PO Ad 01
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0009
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
  • 9001
  • 0002
  • 0001

 

Premier Moe did an interview on the Roy Green Show where he wondered how the federal government could unilaterally inflict such policies on a province that constitutionally controls its natural resources.

He said this because, in some ways, this was also a cap on production, investment, employment and opportunity.

On Nov. 9, Moe took to Twitter writing, “Saskatchewan needs to be a nation within a nation. When the federal government implements policies that are detrimental to our province, our government will continue to stand up for the Saskatchewan people.”

First to ridicule Premier Moe was The Globe & Mail’s columnist Gary Mason. He pilloried the idea that Saskatchewan, with only three per cent of the population, could even pretend that it should be a big dog province like Quebec and its formally recognized special status.

Mason wrote, “That rumbling sound you heard this week was the very foundation of the country being shaken by calls from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for nationhood status within Confederation.” He called the “nation within a nation” concept “embarrassing.”

I quit reading the predictably proke Mason years ago. Now you know why.

Then the newspaper escalated the COP26/climate/Trudeau/Saskatchewan controversy with an article based on a presentation former prime minister Stephen Harper gave to the Canada West Foundation.

Globe writer Steve Chase wrote an article titled, “Harper says Canada’s climate-change policy unfairly singles out ‘certain parts of the country.’

It began, “Stephen Harper is criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate-change policy for unfairly singling out ‘certain parts of the country,’ as the Liberal government proceeds with a hard cap on oil and gas emissions that are expected to particularly affect provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan …The former prime minister did not identify Mr. Trudeau by name but spoke about the need for ‘fair treatment’ by the federal government and avoiding conflicts with provinces.”

Harper added that when he was prime minister, “I made it a habit not to go to war with the provinces.”

How you view this depends on how you it affects you. The idea that Trudeau’s climate commitments hit Saskatchewan and Alberta hard is, to a certain degree, based on the location of the largest source of oil and gas production emissions. Every producing region where output exceeds local demand faces this challenge.

But there is no other major oil and gas producing jurisdiction in the world doing what Canada is doing to its own industry. Disconnecting GHG emissions from Canadian regional climate politics is impossible.

  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0020 Sk Oil Show PO Ad 02 speakers with voiceover
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0017 eventworx
  • 0016 Estevan Meter Services
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0015 Latus Viro PO Ad 01
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0009
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
  • 9001
  • 0002
  • 0001

 

Why are the Liberals doing this? Because they can. Canada is surely the only country in the world where you can win three consecutive elections by promising policies that regulate, penalize and obstruct the nation’s largest and most valuable resource sector by any measure.

Countries that produce oil and gas like Norway, Holland and Britain do this to some degree. But none of the top 10 producers – of which Canada is fifth – have even considered measures like this.

The Liberals can do this for three reasons:

The first is economic. There is no evidence from the ballooning federal debt or public spending that the Liberals care about the economic impact of their policies. They disguise the true cost to the economy with more borrowed money.

The second is political. There are few votes to be lost in the oil producing west but many votes to be gained in others. This map of the 2021 election tells the story.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Canadian_federal_election

 

If you overlayed a map of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin over the blue shaded areas, it would be solid CPC except for a couple of seats in Edmonton and Calgary.

This was the third election the Liberals have won campaigning against the oil and gas industry in the name of climate change. Anti-oil nuggets dating back to 2015 include:

  • Committing to the 2015 Paris emissions reduction targets
  • Cancelling the Northern Gateway pipeline
  • Refusing to challenge Quebec’s opposition to Energy East
  • Replacing the National Energy Board with a new agency with a much broader mandate and backing it up with Bill C 69, coined “The No More Pipelines Act
  • Introducing Bill C 48, the northern B.C. tanker ban, to ensure nobody even thinks about trying to build another oil pipeline to the Pacific Coast
  • Carbon taxes escalating to $170/tonne by 2030
  • Introducing the Clean Fuel Standard
  • Inventing the “just transition,” government assistance to retrain oil workers destined to lose their jobs
  • Increasing the Paris 2030 emission reduction commitment by 50 per cent
  • Campaigning on hard cap on oil and gas emissions

With Bill C 48, Canada became the only country in the world that has passed a law denying a valuable landlocked resource the world still needs tidewater access.

Northern Gateway Pipeline map. Canada Energy Regulator

 

As the Liberals pursue policies that put world ahead of Canada, the amount of support the current government actually received in the last two elections is noteworthy.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT VOTER SUPPORT THIS CENTURY

Year Winner Per Cent (1) Turnout (2) Net Support (3)
2000 Liberal/Chretien 40.9% 64.1% 26.3%
2004 Liberal/Martin 36.7% 60.9% 22.4%
2006 CPC/Harper 36.3% 64.7% 23.5%
2008 CPC/Harper 37.7% 58.5% 22.1%
2010 CPC/Harper 39.7% 61.1% 24.2%
2015 Liberal/Trudeau 39.5% 68.3% 27.0%
2019 Liberal/Trudeau 33.1% 67.0% 22.2%
2021 Liberal/Trudeau 32.7% 62.3% 20.3%
  1. Per cent of the popular vote among those how voted
  2. Turnout as a percentage of eligible voters
  3. Net votes for the government based upon eligible voters

Based on the last two elections, the current Liberal administration has pursued its climate change agenda with the direct backing of the lowest number of eligible voter support of any administration this century. They retrain power thanks primarily to the NDP.

Those most opposed to these policies live in the areas subjected to the greatest economic impact.

The third reason the federal government can penalize one area of the country to get votes in others is Canada’s toothless Senate.

In the United States, the Senate is comprised of two elected senators per state to protect underpopulated regions. President Joe Biden is learning the hard way what he cannot do to oil-producing states that elect two Republican senators like Alaska, Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. They comprise almost a quarter of the upper chamber.

In Canada, senators are appointed by the prime minister. The last time the oil-producing regions needed support in the Senate to stop or make major amendments to bills C 48 and C 69, it failed.

If you have any notions of provincial equality like Premier Moe, the math is grossly unfair. Alberta and Saskatchewan have 12 senators combined. Quebec and Ontario have 48. The four maritime provinces, with half the population of Alberta and Saskatchewan, have 30.

Yet Canada’s Gary Masons call Premier Moe’s legitimate concerns, “… a nonsensical ploy to get people to look somewhere other than at his own government’s dismal handling of the pandemic. The premier’s complaint of a regional bias against Saskatchewan and the West by the federal government become boring a long time ago.”

Stephen Harper disagrees completely.

The Globe’s article reads, “Mr. Harper said that, in his opinion, the federal government under his tenure treated all regions fairly ‘whether they voted for us or not.’ He said that is not happening today under Ottawa’s climate-change policy.”

  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0020 Sk Oil Show PO Ad 02 speakers with voiceover
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0017 eventworx
  • 0016 Estevan Meter Services
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0015 Latus Viro PO Ad 01
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0009
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
  • 9001
  • 0002
  • 0001

 

Harper said, “Obviously, the way some things are being handled today – where certain parts of the country are singled out in ways that other aren’t – I think is really inexcusable.”

It continues, “The former prime minister said he believes this approach to climate-change mitigation is unusual.” Harper said, “Franky, I don’t see this happening in other parts of the world.”

A good indicator of how politicized this issue is came courtesy of Trudeau’s friend, advisor and environmentalist, Gerald Butts.

Butts worked for years to help Trudeau become prime minister then joined the PMO in running the government until he got snared in the SNC Lavalin legal interference scandal in early 2019.

He wrote on Twitter, “His (Harper’s) divisive climate nonsense will get headlines, but it’s Harper’s willingness to talk down his own country to foreign investors that’s really shocking behaviour for a former PM – especially but not exclusively because he’s wrong on the facts.”

Wow. If you’re looking for polar opposites in Canadian politics, it would be Trudeau and Butts on one side and Moe and Harper on the other.

However frustrating Canadian climate politics has become, the COP26 theatre is closed for another year and the world will be turn its attention to the basics of food and energy security.

And thankfully, Saskatchewan has massive quantities of both.

 

David Yager is an oil service executive, oil writer and energy policy commentators and analyst. He is currently president and CEO of Winterhawk Casing Expansion Services, which is commercializing a new way of mitigating methane emissions from surface casing vent flows. He is author of From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. More at www.miracletomenace.ca.

 

  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0020 Sk Oil Show PO Ad 02 speakers with voiceover
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0017 eventworx
  • 0016 Estevan Meter Services
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0015 Latus Viro PO Ad 01
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0009
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
  • 9001
  • 0002
  • 0001