Are we in a confederation or not?

con·fed·er·a·tion:

noun
  1. an organization that consists of a number of parties or groups united in an alliance or league.

Canada is referred to as a confederation. As regions and provinces, we agreed to and came together under a common constitution under the understanding that membership in this confederation was to be of benefit to all of us as a whole.

One of the most important aspects of our confederation is the ability to move our people and goods unfettered from coast to coast. If we allow municipal or provincial jurisdictions to hinder the movement of goods and people, we will then become a loose collection of nation states. What benefit is there for a province to remain in confederation if inter-provincial barriers are as onerous or worse than international ones?

Our founding fathers knew this. That is why they entrenched the authority to govern interprovincial trade within our constitution. It is pretty straightforward and doesn’t take a constitutional lawyer to translate and interpret things.

Section 91 of the constitution lays out what lands under federal authority and part two of that section reads:

2.
The Regulation of Trade and Commerce

I quoted it to show just how clear this constitutional authority is. There is utterly no question that the regulation trade and commerce is under federal authority. No ambiguity.

Next is section 121 of the constitution which is also very clear:

121. All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces

The constitution makes it clear that the federal government has both the authority and the obligation to ensure the free trade and movement of goods between the provinces.

In looking at recent and current issues with inter-provincial pipeline projects, it is clear that perhaps Trudeau understands that he has the authority to ensure the free trade of goods but he apparently doesn’t understand the obligation to enforce that authority when required.

The National Energy Board is a federal creation. While we would not want to see constant federal intervention in NEB activities, the NEB gets its mandate from and ultimately answers to the feds. In caving to activists supported by provincial and municipal politicians, the NEB has essentially neutered itself as an authority on pipeline approvals. In tossing out an entire committee due to what really were some weak activist complaints and in entrenching the absurd requirement to take upstream & downstream emissions into account with pipeline approvals, the NEB killed the Energy East line through unreasonable regulation. This will have a chilling effect on future and current pipeline applications unless we see something drastically change. The Transmountain pipeline has been delayed yet again and it is looking very likely that it will be killed by the application process soon. This is where the federal government needs to take control and assert their authority.

The inaction from Ottawa on these pipelines is purely political. Trudeau is terrified of antagonizing Quebec politicians such as Denis Coderre and Philippe Couillard for fear of losing seats in la belle province. The same can be said in BC where the mayors of Burnaby, Vancouver and the Premier of the province are all lined up in opposition to the Transmountain expansion. None of these municipal or provincial politicians have any authority to hinder these projects but unless Trudeau begins to exercise his federal authority in these affairs, local opposition will continue to delay or halt these essential Canadian projects.

We can rest assured that provincial politicians in favor of pipelines will become more bold as frustration with Trudeau’s impotence on the issue grows. We can look forward to trade wars as Premiers use regulation to punish neighboring provinces for hindering development. While turning off the oil taps to Vancouver for a week could be effective in gaining support for infrastructure expansion, the support would be grudging and consumers as always would ultimately pay the price. Nobody would come out happy from such a trade war.

If provinces are forced to go toe to toe all the time on trade issues such as this, it is inevitable that people will start asking themselves what the point is in being within a confederation? As the price of consumer goods rise and unemployment skyrockets due to cancelled projects, those voices will gain strength.

Nostalgia and emotion will only carry a person so far if they can’t get food on the tables. People need to see a real, tangible benefit in being within confederation and the free trade of goods provides that. That benefit is quickly vanishing due callow inaction from our federal government and the long term costs to our entire nation could be exceedingly high.

As long as our constitution is not being enforced, we are only a confederation in name only. If inaction continues, perhaps real movements will begin move provinces out from even that nominal presence within confederation. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that.

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The show must go on. We can’t stall pipelines forever.

Revenues have gone down, taxes have gone up and folks have lost jobs thanks to the trend of hysteric opposition to the safest form of oil/gas transport known to man: pipelines. Time and reality will win in the end and Canada will continue to increase exports of oil and gas products despite the irrational blanket opposition to all development coming from groups that purport to care about working class Canadians.

pipeline

TransCanada Corp announced that they are moving forward with their proposal to build infrastructure to bring crude oil to St. John New Brunswick that would transport over a million barrels per day.

The usual union backed suspects are already gnashing their teeth in opposition and rounding up bored hipsters and natives to try and stage protests against Canada’s latest effort to bring jobs and prosperity. The ink isn’t dry on the proposal and it does not need to be. Reality and facts are of no consequence as organized labor claims to care about the working man yet consistently opposes all efforts to create infrastructure to support an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people. Screeching members of the loony-left automatically oppose all energy development while howling for more expenditure on a myriad of social programs. The folks truly have no concept of where the cash comes from for their beloved arts projects, welfare and even health care. They really believe Canada will be fine without the billions and billions of tax dollars brought in annually from the energy industry.

Now on to reality. The aforementioned chronic opponents of development can and will be dismissed as they are truly irrational and there is no reasoning with them.

Reality: THERE IS NO REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE TO CARBON BASED ENERGY YET!!!

We can make windmills, talk of tidal and geothermal and dream of solar energy. The reality is that none of those sources can generate power in nearly the volume required or at a cost that is at all reasonable at this time. What happened to the hydrogen fuel cell powered car anyway? How about the Volt? How is that biofuel black hole going? Governments can be pressured into investing into many pie-in-the-sky alternatives but fiscal reality inevitably returns to bite them (and the taxpayers in the arse).

Reality: CANADA’S PRODUCTS MUST GET TO MARKET!!!

Canada has some of the largest energy reserves on the entire planet. Our prosperity as an entire nation is not only dependent on our development of these carbon based products but on our selling of those products to consumers outside of Canada. Protectionism is always a shallow farce. We need trade and oil/gas are our strongest items for this. It is not reasonable to turn ourselves into a third world country in refusing to trade with our best asset.

While keeping our energy in could indeed lead to cheap domestic fuel prices, we would be broke otherwise. Venezuela is a wonderful example of foolish policies (socialism). While they have some of the cheapest domestic fuel prices of earth, damn near none of their citizens can afford cars. Not really a good trade.

Reality: THE USA DOES NOT NEED OUR OIL AND GAS

Peak oil has been a myth propagated to keep folks in fear for over 50 years. A few minutes on google can find countless predictions of the world running out of energy and they have all of course been wrong. There has always been somebody predicting the end of the world and to date none have been correct.

New fields are still being discovered and new extraction technology is always coming on-stream.

In the last five years I have spent more than half of my time working South of the border on American oil/gas exploration projects. While we piss and moan and delay domestic energy projects, a very mobile workforce has been taking it’s expertise (and tax dollars) out of the country. We are not going to sit and go broke and wait for common sense to ensue.

I have worked in oilfields in Pennsylvania that are literally well over 140 years old that are now getting new life thanks to fracturing and seismic technology. Texas and Oklahoma are booming as new wells are being drilled and product is flowing. North Dakota is discovering whole new and giant reserves.

I spent three years working in the Arctic on the ice North of Inuvik. I assure you there is at least a couple more generations of oil and gas sitting up there and not a drop has been taken out yet. We need to look ahead but we are a long way from running out of reserves yet.

The USA does not need our energy and pricing ourselves out of the market will not help. We need to get our product to the coastlines in an increasing amount if we want to retain our standard of living across the country.

Reality: OIL AND GAS ARE ALREADY GOING TO OUR COASTS AND IT HAS FOR DECADES!!

It is painful listening to the daft, shallow souls howling about tanker traffic suddenly coming to Canada’s West coast or pipelines spanning our Rocky Mountains when we consider that tankers have been going to the coast already for decades and we have been pipelining oil across the mountains for over sixty years already.

We have transported untold millions of barrels across the mountains and then the Pacific without major incident and our technology is only becoming safer.

Rail traffic in crude oil has quadrupled in just the last few years and it will continue to grow if we keep foolishly delaying pipelines. More bears will get splattered and a much higher risk of spills and derailment will continue if we keep forcing the use of rail despite a safe means of transport being in front of us.

Governments are sensitive to the environmental lobby but they are even more sensitive to revenue. These new pipelines will get approved and will be built no matter how hard the union funded opposition howls. What we have to ask ourselves is how much more time and resources we will waste before getting on with it. We can’t afford as a nation to keep pissing around with this and we will not no matter who heads the next federal government. Reality dictates this, lets accept it and work with it.

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Shortsighted opposition to new pipelines is damaging our environment

Today while checking on some things in the field on a program in Pennsylvania I came across a stark reminder of the consequences of successful opposition to pretty much all new conventional energy infrastructure in North America. While tracking one large and degrading gas pipeline through the bush, I encountered another pipeline that had failed and was leaking natural gas at a pretty high rate as can be seen and heard in the video I took below.

Pennsylvania’s oil rush began in the 1860s and much of the infrastructure out here is simply ancient. Fracturing technology has brought a new boom to these regions as fields that had been previously considered to be depleted are being brought back to life with new production of both oil and gas in shale formations. Unfortunately, while the existing pipeline infrastructure is old and failing it is damned near impossible to get any large new energy distribution projects approved as myopic and self-serving environmentalists will immediately hinder the process through lobbying and legal challenges. What this foolishness has led to is an increase in environmental damage as well as creating a very dangerous working environment for energy and agricultural workers in areas where pipelines are failing.

It is absolutely undeniable that modern pipelines are far and away the most safe, economical and environmentally friendly way to transport oil and gas. Modern pipeline failures occur on occasion and most often these are due to human error in excavation without proper utility location having been done beforehand. A pipeline can’t be faulted for leaking when a fool hits it with a backhoe shovel. With the literally billions of barrels and cubic feet of energy products being moved all over the world the amount that actually gets lost due to leaks is nearly microscopic in scope and getting smaller all the time as our technology improves.

Demand is not going away for oil and gas any time soon. Environmentalists can harp on all they like about wind, solar and geothermal power but the reality is that these forms of energy are not even remotely close to replacing carbon based energy at this time and we still need to provide oil and gas to people. We are doing this with pipelines and these pipelines are becoming old.

Like it or not, populations are growing and usage of fossil fuels is increasing along with that. Due to myopic opposition, new pipelines are not being built as they should and producers are being forced to either use old pipelines that really should be replaced or are even transporting product through trains and trucks which burn fossil fuels in transporting product and are much more likely to have an accident leading to spills than pipelines will ever be.

If we really care about the environment and about safety we need to expedite new pipeline projects rather than hinder them. We have to be realistic rather than idealistic. New and ever improving pipeline construction and monitoring technology means nothing if we are still forced to use pipelines that are 40, 50 or even 100 years old. Lets build new pipelines so we can shut down these old ones before more product leaks into the environment or people possibly get killed in a large rupture.

Until the flux-capacitor or dilithium crystals leave the world of science fiction and become a reality, we will need fossil fuels in our lives. It’s time to set aside the hysteria spread by multinational corporations such as Greenpeace and take a realistic look at what needs to be done to move oil and gas safely.

Just as we will never see a highway with 0 fatalities we will never be able to move oil and gas with a 100% risk free means. We can come pretty damn close though if we could just put the new pipes in the ground. Until then we unfortunately will only see more spills and accidents.

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