There is deep anxiety in Canada’s western provinces over federal policies that are essentially instigating a protracted death of the energy industry. This lack of pipeline capacity has severely depressed Canadian oil prices in recent months, while some have warned that C-69 could hinder new pipeline projects from ever being proposed. The federal carbon tax is also increasing operating expenses for farmers and ranchers, where the rebate is well below what individuals and companies pay out. Many protestors represent the difficulties Albertans, in particular, face in making ends meet amid the now years-long economic depression.
For Westerners who feel history is repeating itself with a second Trudeau Prime Minister deliberately harming the country’s economic engine – the oil and gas industry – the upcoming provincial election will be pivotal should the newly created United Conservative Party, led by Jason Kenney, form government to challenge these harmful policies. Anxieties came to the surface at United We Roll rallies in Ottawa this week, where protesters targeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax, Bill C-69 energy reforms, and continued delays in building the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The United We Roll convoy is a pro-industry movement established in Alberta of protesters who are concerned about the Liberal government’s energy policies, including Bill C-69, and lack of pipeline to new markets via the coasts. The convoy began in Red Deer, Alberta on Valentine’s Day and headed for Ottawa over four days with stops for rallies along the way. More than 150 vehicles and a similar number of people gathered on Parliament’s lawn Tuesday. The protesters want the Liberal government to scrap the carbon tax and two bills that overhaul environmental assessments of energy projects and ban oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, finance critic Pierre Poilievre, several other Tories, and People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier addressed the demonstration.
The United We Roll convoy dispersed on Wednesday to head home and convoy organizer Glen Carritt said he “absolutely” believes the prime minister and his government got the message. “If they didn’t hear this, then they’re more disconnected than I thought,” he said. Mr. Carritt said the group hopes to maintain momentum from the rally by putting forward petitions to scrap the federal carbon tax, Bill C-69, and Bill C-48, which is the oil tanker moratorium in northern B.C. He said they would work with Western Conservative MPs Bob Zimmer, Rachael Harder, Blaine Calkins and others on the petitions.
True to form for the mainstream news media, the federally funded Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) attempted to create an issue on an episode of The National by associating the convoy with Canadian Yellow Vest protestors, who are against the United Nations’ Global Migration Compact that would essentially make national borders obsolete, and claimed convoy organizers failed to denounce “racism”, which had nothing to do with the convoy or even a nearby Yellow Vest protest.
In a report released this week, the C.D. Howe Institute says capital expenditures in oil and gas, mining and electrical power fell CAD $50 billion between 2014 and 2018, down to CAD $75 billion, and warns that C-69 could further restrict such investments. “With investment in Canada’s resources sector already depressed, the federal government’s proposed Bill C-69 could further discourage investments by congesting the assessment process with wider public policy concerns and increasing political uncertainty,” the report says. In particular, the report points to a “highly subjective” standard of assessing new projects under the proposed regime.
U.S. oil giant Devon Energy announced on Wednesday that it was planning to sell the entirety of its oil assets in Canada, joining a number of other foreign energy companies that have divested of their Canadian holdings in recent years. A wave of divestments worth tens of billions of dollars, including Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips, have spread fears that foreign investors have finally turned their backs on Canada’s weakened oil sector, particularly amid low confidence in its regulatory regime.