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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I have resisted getting into the Thomas Mulcair affair until the gentleman in question at least had the good sense to come to western Canada and have a look around. Unfortunately like many eastern Canadian politicians before him, when it came time to take a look at the western Canadian energy business and particularly the oilsands business, he chose to fly over it rather than getting down on the ground, get his feet and hands a little bit dirty and actually talk to the people that make the businesses run. I know western Canada is a big place and you do have to do a lot of flying but when it comes to really understanding, I always found you have to get down on the ground and talk to the people who actually work in various places.

If you really want to see whether there are environmental, social and economic impacts they have to be there right in front of you in order to truly understand and get the right perspective.

The energy business is a multi-billion dollar a year business for western Canada and for all Canadians. You have heard me comment many times on the fact that I believe we are not getting a full bang for our buck because we ship far too much product to the Americans at discounted prices. If Mr. Mulcair really had Canada’s interests at heart, he would be talking not about the “Dutch” disease and how this puts eastern Canadian manufacturers at a disadvantage, he instead should be talking about the Canadian advantage of shipping western Canadian energy products to eastern Canada and doing the further processing there so that we could sell finished products to the Americans and others or at least replace expensive imported oil into eastern Canadian refiners. The pipelines in this country have long flowed east and west. No one seems to be trying to make that equation work for Canada’s advantage these days.

I don’t know if Thomas Mulcair has learned anything from his short trip to western Canada and the oilsands but it is time that western Canadian politicians began telling the good news story across this land and also taking the opportunity to start value-adding our resources instead of simply pumping and digging them out of the ground as fast as they can in order to satisfy their own particular budget habits. It is very easy to pile on someone like Mr. Mulcair who makes dumb statements from the safety of Ottawa. The trick is to be a statesman and prove him wrong.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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