A Leger poll of 1,535 Canadians found 72 per cent of respondents either “somewhat” or “strongly” supported “developing and exporting more oil and natural gas resources”. Needless to say, Canada’s Prime Minister is opposed
By Colin Craig, National Post, Oct. 26, 2022
Over the past decade, many European nations grew dependent on Russia for their oil and natural gas needs. The folly of this policy was revealed by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That is why, since February, many of those same European nations have been knocking desperately on Canada’s door seeking to purchase some of our enormous supplies of oil and gas resources.
A new Leger poll conducted for Secondstreet.org shows Canadians want to help. The poll of 1,535 Canadians found 72 per cent of respondents either “somewhat” or “strongly” supported “developing and exporting more oil and natural gas resources so that the world can reduce how much it purchases from Russia.” Support was widespread across Canada, stretched from coast to coast and included men and women and all age groups.
But support was weakest where it counts the most — in the federal government. The Trudeau government seems to have taken its marching orders from the 13 per cent of Canadians who are either “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed to exporting more of our oil and natural gas. As the world scrambles to find resources we have in abundance, the government continues to focus on its climate change and renewables narrative. Reality and public opinion seem not to be part of its decision-making.
How often does it have to be said? The wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. Wind and solar power are a helpful, welcome addition to the world’s energy mix but they are far from a magic solution. They are quite unreliable and, partly for that reason, remain a very small source of the world’s energy — just two per cent in 2019 according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Their biggest shortcoming is that they require backup sources when the wind isn’t blowing and clouds block the sun’s rays.
This unreliability is one reason Europe is now firing up coal power plants it had previously closed. Yes, while Canada keeps its natural gas in the ground to “reduce emissions,” Europe’s coal plants will now generate nearly double the emissions that burning Canadian natural gas instead would have produced.
‘No business case’ for natural gas exports? Business leaders disagree
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently claimed there has “never been a strong business case” for exporting natural gas from Canada’s east coast to Europe. Within days, 101 business leaders, most of whom either work or have worked in Canada’s energy sector, took out a full-page ad informing the prime minister that in their view there was in fact a business case. The problem is that government-imposed environmental roadblocks have made it nearly impossible to get new oil and gas projects off the ground.
So, who do Canadians believe?
When asked which position best represents their view — Ottawa’s or industry’s — our new poll shows Canadians are more than three times more likely (54 per cent to 16 per cent) to agree with industry. The federal government is clearly on shaky ground, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The prime minister could recognize economic and geopolitical reality and embrace developing our oil and gas resources. If he liked, he could take Ottawa’s share from the billions in tax dollars new oil and gas projects would create and spend it developing new technology to reduce emissions. He might even convince provincial governments to contribute a portion of the revenues they would receive as well. In many people’s view, that would not be the best use of these new tax revenues but if such deal-making got the resources out of the ground and delivered them to people who badly need them, in part to replace coal and reduce emissions, it could be winwin.
Getting new energy projects underway can’t happen overnight. It would take years, even if governments fast-tracked approvals. But Mr. Putin has created what is likely to be a long-term problem. The world can’t get started on easing off Russian energy fast enough.