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Energy

Proposed legislation seeks to suppress speech about climate change and fossil fuels

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NDP MP Charlie Angus

From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

Canada is a constitutional parliamentary democracy where differences of opinion are to be resolved through elections, which people are persuaded by words and ideas, not threats of violence. Stripping people of the right to express themselves freely will introduce violence into the democratic process, disenfranchising some people and disenchanting others.

It’s rare, in today’s political world, for someone in power to whip off the velvet glove and show the iron fist beneath. It’s a bit gauche for our times. But that’s what happened recently when federal NDP natural resources critic Charlie Angus tabled a member’s bill that would clap anyone who says negative things about the government’s fossil-fuel-phobia into the pokey—and rob them on the way to jail. We’re not talking about a slap on the wrist, but about million-dollar fines and years in jail for simply expressing a positive thought about fossil fuels. So much for the fundamental freedom of expression in Canada.

Angus’ Bill C-372 would fine and jail people for the most innocuous of speech relating to climate change or fossil fuels. Even daring to speak the obvious truths such as “natural gas is less polluting than coal” could land you in jail for one year and cost you $750,000. If you produce fossil fuels and are found guilty of “false promotion,” you’d face two years in jail and a $1.5 million fine.

Enacting such speech restrictions would be destructive of the fabric of Canadian society, and even though this member’s bill (like most) will go nowhere, it should trouble Canadians that we’ve reached a level of political discourse where members of Parliament feel they can blatantly propose stripping Canadians of their freedom of expression, obviously convinced they’ll not pay a price it.

Specifically, Bill-372 and its pernicious idea of speech control would cause harm to two major elements of Canadian civilization—our democracy, which depends on the free exchange of ideas as Canada elects its leaders, and our mixed-market economic system where actors in the market require a free flow of information to make informed decisions that can produce positive economic outcomes and economic growth.

Let’s start with that democracy thing. Canada is a constitutional parliamentary democracy where differences of opinion are to be resolved through elections, which people are persuaded by words and ideas, not threats of violence. Stripping people of the right to express themselves freely will introduce violence into the democratic process, disenfranchising some people and disenchanting others. Canada already has to work hard to promote engagement by the public in the political process. Things like Bill C-372 would not make this easier. A less politically engaged public cedes ever more power to entrenched politicians and political activists, and leaves power in the hands of smaller minorities with extreme enough views who think opposing ideas must be suppressed with force.

Regarding free speech, consider this. Without a robust mixed-market economy, the voluntary exchange which leads to economic activity does not happen. Productivity declines and scarcity, the eternal scourge of humanity, resurges and people suffer. Freedom of expression is central to the operation of market economies. People must be free to share information about the value of things (or lack thereof) for decisions to be made, for prices to manifest, and for markets to function effectively. Without open communication in markets, diversity of goods and services will diminish as some goods and services won’t be promoted or defended while others are freely to advertised.

Bill C-372 should and likely will die an ignominious death in Parliament, but all politicians of all parties should denounce it for what it is—an attempt by government to suppress speech. Unlikely to happen, but one can always hope for sanity to prevail.

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Energy

Canada Has All the Elements to be a Winner in Global Energy — Now Let’s Do It

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Mike Rose is Chair, President and CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp.

From EnergyNow.ca

By Mike Rose of Tourmaline Oil Corp.

There has never been a more urgent time to aggressively develop Canada’s massive resource wealth

There has never been a more urgent time to aggressively develop Canada’s massive resource wealth. An increasingly competitive world is organizing into new alliances that are threatening our traditional Western democracies.

Weaker or underperforming countries may be left behind economically and, in some cases, their sovereignty may be compromised. We cannot let either scenario happen to Canada.

Looking inward, our country has posted among the weakest economic growth of all G20 nations over the past decade — we are at real risk of delivering a materially diminished standard of living to our children and subsequent future generations.

Canada is blessed with one of the largest and most diverse natural resource endowments in the world. It’s not just oil and gas; it’s uranium, precious metals, rare earth elements, enormous renewable forests, a vast fertile agricultural land base and, of course, the single-largest freshwater reserve on the planet.

This is nothing new; Canada has been regarded as a resource-extraction economy for a long time, but over the past two decades we’ve been slowing down and finding reasons to not advance new projects. While looking ahead to an exciting new future economy is enticing, the majority of our easily accessible resource wealth remains largely untapped. Our Canadian resource sectors are the most capital-efficient, technologically advanced and environmentally responsible in the world. We’ve got the winning combination.

Canada has among the largest, lowest-cost natural gas reserves in the world — we’re already the fourth-largest producer. With consistent regulatory support, we can rapidly evolve into a leader in the growing global LNG business.

This country produces among the lowest-emission natural gas in the world and technology adaptation is widening the gap. A 10 bcf/day Canadian LNG industry targeted to displace coal-fired electrical generation in Asia would offset the vast majority of emissions from the entire domestic oil and gas industry. Contemplating a cap on the Canadian natural gas industry is actually damaging to the global environment, as growing demand will be met by jurisdictions with higher associated emissions.

As developed economies look at electrification to accelerate emissions reduction, nuclear power is becoming increasingly attractive. Canada is already one of the largest uranium producers in the world and has long possessed one of the most efficient and safest reactor designs. This is an advantage we created for ourselves several decades ago; it’s time to harvest this opportunity.

The rare earth elements required for a growing solar industry and battery requirements associated with electrification are abundant in certain regions in Canada — for example, a large new mining opportunity is emerging in Ontario. We should make that happen. One of the great outcomes of accelerating our multi-sector resource opportunity is that the economic benefits will be enjoyed across the country; all Canadians will share in it.

The Canadian agricultural industry has been long regarded as a world leader in efficiency, yield and technical innovation. Global food security and affordability are rapidly emerging issues, and Canada has a role to play here, as well. Not only could we make it more attractive for Canadian producers to grow output and explore novel new transportation corridors to feed more of the world, we have a large, well-established, globally competitive fertilizer industry.

There are many more future resource wealth opportunities we could be capitalizing on. The list is as long as the imagination of our well-educated and entrepreneurial resource sector workforce.

Enormous amounts of capital are required for these projects, and that global capital is most certainly available. These pools of capital will flow into Canada if we demonstrate a willingness to consistently support the Canadian resource sector at provincial and federal government levels.

Accelerating domestic multi-sector resource development provides solutions to many of the problems currently facing Canada. We’ll be playing to strengths that we have established and evolved over many decades. We are the most efficient and technologically advanced in the full spectrum of resource development. Adoption and innovative adaptation of the continuous march of technology advancements will only make us better.

To paraphrase: We can take advantage of what’s between our ears to do an even better job of developing what’s beneath our feet.

Mike Rose is Chair, President and CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp.

In an ongoing monthly series presented by the Calgary Herald and Financial Post, Canadian business leaders share their thoughts on the country’s economic challenges and opportunities.

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Alberta

Canada’s advantage as the world’s demand for plastic continues to grow

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From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives’

From the clothes on your back to the containers for household products to the pipes and insulation in your home, plastics are interwoven into the fabric of day-to-day life for most Canadians.

And that reliance is projected to grow both in Canada and around the world in the next three decades

The Global Plastics Outlook, published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), forecasts the use of plastics globally will nearly triple by 2060, driven by economic and population growth.  

The use of plastics is projected to double in OECD countries like Canada, the United States and European nations, but the largest increases will take place in Asia and Africa. 

“The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives, whether it is packaging, textiles, building materials or medical equipment,” says Christa Seaman, vice-president, plastics with the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which represents Canada’s plastics producers.  

She says as countries look to meet climate and sustainability goals, demand for plastic will grow. 

“Plastics in the market today demonstrate their value to our society. Plastics are used to make critical components for solar panels and wind turbines. But they also can play a role in reducing weight in transportation or in ensuring goods that are transported have less weight in their packaging or in their products.” 

Canada produces about $35 billion worth of plastic resin and plastic products per year, or over five per cent of Canadian manufacturing sales, according to a 2019 report published by the federal government.  

Seaman says Canadian plastic producers have competitive advantages that position them to grow as demand rises at home and abroad. In Alberta, a key opportunity is the abundant supply of natural gas used to make plastic resin.  

“As industry and consumer expectations shift for production to reduce emissions, Canada, and particularly Alberta, are extremely well placed to meet increased demand thanks to its supply of low-carbon feedstock. Going forward, production with less emissions is going to be important for companies,” Seaman says.  

“You can see that with Dow Chemical’s decision to spend $8.8 billion on a net zero facility in Alberta.” 

While modern life would not be possible without plastics, the CIAC says there needs to be better post-use management of plastic products including advanced recycling, or a so-called “circular economy” where plastics are seen as a resource or feedstock for new products, not a waste. 

Some companies have already started making significant investments to generate recyclable plastics.  

For example, Inter Pipeline Ltd.’s $4.3 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex near Edmonton started operating in 2023. It produces a recyclable plastic called polypropylene from propane, with 65 per cent lower emissions than the global average thanks to the facility’s integrated design. 

Achieving a circular economy – where 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste is diverted or recycled – would benefit Canada’s economy, according to the CIAC.  

Deloitte study, commissioned by Environment & Climate Change Canada, estimated diverting or reusing 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste by 2030 will save $500 million annually while creating 42,000 direct and indirect jobs. It would also cut Canada’s annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 megatonnes.  

Right now, about 85 per cent of plastics end up in Canada’s landfills. To reach the 90 per cent diversion rate, Seaman says Canada must improve its infrastructure to collect and process the plastic waste currently being landfilled. 

But she also says the industry rather than municipalities need to take responsibility for recycling plastic waste.  

“This concept is referred to as extended producer responsibility. Municipalities have the responsibility for managing recycling within a waste management system. Given the competing costs and priorities, they don’t have the incentive to invest into recycling infrastructure when landfill space was the most cost-effective solution for them,” she says.  

“Putting that responsibility on the producers who put the products on the market makes the most sense…The industry is adapting, and we hope government policy will recognize this opportunity for Canada to meet our climate goals while growing our economy.” 

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