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The “Just Transition” Soviet style plans for Canada’s oilpatch


6 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Zinchuk

The “Just Transition” legislation currently before the House of Commons Natural Resources Committee mentions unions a fair bit. It also mentions what are effectively five-year plans, which was a common practice for molding the economies of the Soviet Union and China, during their darkest years.

However, outside of big-inch pipeline construction, refining and the oil sands, there’s simply aren’t that many unionized companies in the oilpatch, at least in Saskatchewan. As in, next to none in the Land of Living Skies.

The legislation is question is Bill C-50, the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act. The act is meant to assist workers in what the federal government had previously referred to as a “just transition,” away from fossil fuels-related jobs towards more “sustainable jobs.” It will create a “Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council” to draft five-year plans to do just that.

The Act’s full name is “An Act respecting accountability, transparency and engagement to support the creation of sustainable jobs for workers and economic growth in a net-zero economy.”

Specifically, Sec. 7 (a.) of the legislation focuses on unions. It says the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council’s responsibilities include “advising the Minister and specified Ministers on strategies and measures to encourage growth in good-paying, high-quality jobs — including jobs in which workers are represented by a trade union — in a net-zero economy.”

That council also is supposed to have a balance of members who represent labour, Indigenous organizations and industry.

The thing is, there are no unions on drilling rigs. Or service rigs, for that matter.

I asked Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors (CAOEC) about this on Nov. 10. He said, “We do not have any unionized drilling or service rigs operating in Western Canada. Most of the oil and gas industry unionization is in the Alberta oilsands or LNG construction in British Columbia. As well, there are some drilling rig platforms operating off the coast of Newfoundland.”

He explained in Alberta and Saskatchewan, on service rigs, drilling rigs and directional drilling, there are no unions representing workers. And the CAOEC represents the companies operating almost every rig working in the oilpatch.

“In the drilling and service rig industry in Western Canada, there are no unions. That is just a simple fact,” he said.

Indeed, in 15 years of covering the Saskatchewan oil industry, and five years building pipelines prior to that, I’ve only encountered unionized workforces at the Regina Co-op Refinery Complex, and in big-inch pipeline construction contractors working for TC Energy, Enbridge, TransGas and Alliance Pipelines. I was one of those union pipeline workers.

But I’ve found them nowhere else, although there may be one unionized electrical firm operating in the Saskatchewan oilpatch.

Unionized labour is prevalent in the oil sands, however.

The legislation says this Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council must present an action plan by Dec. 31, 2025, and every five years after that. The government would also for a “Sustainable Jobs Secretariat”

Its role would be “enabling policy and program coherence in the development and implementation of each Sustainable Jobs Action Plan, including by coordinating the implementation of measures set out in those plans across federal entities, including those focused — at the national and regional level — on matters such as skills development, the labour market, rights at work, economic development and emissions reduction.”

It would also support the preparation and track the progress of the five-year plans, coordinate specific federal-provincial initiatives related to the plan, and provide administrative and policy support to the council.

For those who might not know their history, five year plans were a primary feature of economy of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin and the People’s Republic of China under Mao Tse-tung. They were the primary instrument for central planning of the economy in each of those nations, often resulting in massive transformations of industries and workforces, something the “Just Transition” legislation is designed to do – transform the oilpatch workforce into “sustainable jobs.”

The first Soviet five-year plan concentrated on developing heavy industry and collectivizing agriculture – directly leading into the Holodomor and the starvation of millions. My family was fortunate enough to get out of the Polish portion of Ukraine in 1930, just before the Holodomor began across the border in Soviet Ukraine in 1931.

This “Just Transition,” and its fitting upcoming five-year plan to totally revolutionize one of our key primary industries and workforce borrows just a little too much from history. We saw how that worked out.

Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online, and occasional contributor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Jordan Peterson interviews Alberta Premier Danielle Smith

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This episode was recorded on June 29th, 2024

Dr. Peterson’s extensive catalog is available now on DailyWire+:


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Trump’s 1,000 Words About Energy

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation



As a person who spent 40 years doing policy and government affairs work in the oil and gas industry, I have always paid close attention to what presidential nominees of both parties have to say — or do not say — about energy in their acceptance speeches.

The vast majority of the time, it has been much more about what they did not say.

Many such speeches since I first started paying attention to such things in 1980 (Reagan vs. Carter) said literally nothing at all on the topic. Most other nominees limited energy-related talk to a sentence or two.

In most election years, energy and its costs are just not a top-of-mind topic for most Americans. But that has all changed now in the wake of the Biden administration’s heavy focus on inflation-causing green subsidies and the rising public awareness of the central role that mushrooming energy costs play in prices for groceries and every other aspect of their lives.

So, after being stunned by how much time former President Donald Trump dedicated to the energy subject during his acceptance speech Thursday evening in Milwaukee, I decided to plow through the transcript of that 90-minute speech to figure out just how many words he had to say on the topic. Amazingly, the number comes to right at 1,000 words. It is impossible to know for sure, but I would speculate that is the most words ever spoken about energy by any nominee in such a speech in American history.

In addition to the predictable promise to bring a return to the “Drill, baby, drill” oil and gas philosophy that characterized his first presidency, the former president spoke at length on other plans for a second one.

  • He openly mocked some elements of Biden’s Green New Deal agenda, at one point noting: “They spent $9 billion on eight chargers, three of which didn’t work.” He then called Biden’s obsession with forcing electric cars on a reluctant public “a crazy electric band-aid.”
  • Trump promised to end Biden’s “EV mandates” on the day he is sworn into office. Given that some of the web of EV-promoting policies implemented by the Biden administration come via regulatory actions, achieving a full pullback will be a little more time-consuming than that.
  • He talked at length about plans by Chinese companies to flood the American EV market with cars either made in Mexico or shipped from China into the U.S. through Mexico, saying the United Auto Workers union “should be ashamed” for continuing to support Biden and other Democrats while this is taking place.
  • He accused the Biden administration of spending “trillions of dollars” on “the green new scam. It’s a scam. And that has caused tremendous inflationary pressures in addition to the cost of energy.”
  • Trump noted that: “Under the Trump administration just three and a half years ago, we were energy independent” — which is factually accurate. The US did produce much more energy than it consumed throughout his presidency, and was a net exporter of oil, natural gas and coal in many months during that time.
  • Trump continued: “But soon we will actually be better than that. We will be energy dominant and supply not only ourselves, but we will supply the rest of the world.” Well, maybe not the rest of the world, but surely much of it. It is a political speech, after all, so a little hyperbole fits.
  • Trump further criticized the Biden White House for reversing the hard line he took with Iran while president, saying: “I told China and other countries, ‘If you buy from Iran, we will not let you do any business in this country, and we will put tariffs on every product you do send in of 100 percent or more.’ And they said to me, ‘Well, I think that’s about it.’ They weren’t going to buy any oil. And…Iran was going to make a deal with us.”

There was much more energy-related content in his speech, but you get the gist: A second Trump presidency would start by reversing as much of the Biden Green New Deal agenda as possible and go from there.

It is safe to say no presidential nominee has ever been as focused on energy as Donald Trump is today. We will see if it pays off for him in November.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

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