President’s Message September 2018

Dark Days for Canada 

President’s Message by Mark Scholz

Two days after it was announced that shovels were officially in the ground and work was beginning on the Canadian public’s new Trans Mountain Expansion project, the Court of Appeals announced the project was cancelled. Citing insufficient assessment of marine traffic, and inadequate consultations with First Nations, the Canadian government was told to rectify these two issues and the project is now suspended indefinitely.

After several long years of pain, it would seem the Canadian oil & gas sector cannot find any reprieve from challenges coming from no shortage of sources. The cities of Vancouver and Burnaby have not let up despite assurances from the federal government that the pipeline was being built. Several First Nations have raised concerns even though most of the First Nations directly along the pipeline route have signed on in support of the project. And now, with Bills C-48 and C-69 looming, project proponents could be subject to a new suite of regulations that were not on the table when the pipeline expansion was proposed nearly five years ago, including assessing how groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and projects and to taking actions that contribute to an inclusive and democratic society.

To be blunt, after years of an organized and highly effective attack on Canadian oil & gas, our industry is so politicized and scrutinized, that we may never see another major hydrocarbon related project built in this country again.

Perhaps the most troubling distinguishing feature in this entire situation—and there are many troubling things about it—is the blatant hypocrisy from the string of groups opposing this pipeline. The City of Vancouver stands opposed while setting records for incoming vessels in its port and importing gasoline and jet fuel from Russia and the U.S. The City of Burnaby stands opposed while sitting on an existing pipeline that employs its citizens and hasn’t had a significant incident in over 60 years. Environmental groups stand opposed while refusing to protest transportation companies such as airlines, U.S. pipelines, or international ports that host 10 times the volume of oil tankers of Canada’s west coast. The province of B.C. stands opposed while simultaneously building an LNG business that will produce and ship liquid natural gas to international markets.

The net effect? In a world where oil and gas consumption continues to rise, Canada cannot even supply its own citizens with responsibly produced oil and gas from companies that employ thousands of men and women, including disabled, gender-diverse, and First Nations individuals. Additionally, these companies not only operate in an inclusive and democratic society, but they generate resource revenues that support the inclusive social programs for said society. Yet, as our homegrown policy continues to handcuff Canadian companies, our country continues to import the same products from a country our own Foreign Affairs Minister publicly denounced for its lack of respect for human rights, leaving companies responsible for tangibly employing women and minorities, reducing emissions and improving technology without the investment needed to continue to do so. And perhaps most appalling: taxpayer dollars are being spent on lawyers who are fighting to take away good Canadian jobs and the ability to generate more taxpayer dollars.

These factors, and many more, result in emissions increasing, human rights violations continuing to evolve slower than possible, and Canadians missing out on many of the benefits a robust oil and gas industry could provide, including cleaner energy solutions. The writing has been on the wall for some time now, I’m just not sure if the lack of action is a result of ignorance or incompetence.

We are living in dark days indeed.

Mark Scholz is president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. He can be reached at [email protected]