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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'm sure everyone did their best to decimate the turkey population while being joined by family, friends and good times.  We are very fortunate in Saskatchewan and Canada because we get to do this on an annual basis and have the turkey population at affordable levels and a country safe enough for us to gather together and enjoy giving thanks for what we have.  Canadians of every religious background and ethnic persuasion love partaking of this annual event.  We have much to celebrate as a society. 

Many of us in western Canada were not celebrating this past week with the decision by Trans Canada Corp to not proceed with the Energy East pipeline.  They cited rising costs associated with the new levels of compliance the federal Liberal government has now imposed on pipeline construction in Canada.

There are all sorts of pros and cons to the arguments about pipelines.  We Canadians will have to sort these things out as we strive to get our oil and gas to export positions.  We are an energy rich country and should take advantage of that in some form so that the standard of living for all Canadians remains one of the best in the world.  Our health care, our education and our social service systems are world class and also very expensive to maintain.

What I liked about the Energy East initiative was that it had the ability to guarantee Canadians energy self-sufficiency no matter what hiccup was happening around the world.  The employment to construct the portions that needed fresh builds would have been done by Canadians and the existing pipe in the ground which has been under used for natural gas would have been easy to transform into oil delivery to eastern Canadian refiners.      

Would they have made a lot of money refining western Canadian oil as opposed to Middle Eastern oil?  I doubt it.  But the next time there is a major political blow up or conflict in the middle east, we would not be held hostage.  The same goes for Nigeria or Angola or Venezuela.  There are enough religious fanatics of all stripes in the Middle East with the ability to manufacture, steal or borrow the materials necessary to create a Hiroshima-type bomb.  Just imagine what would happen to oil supplies with one of those archaic-type bombs going off around the Persian Gulf.  Need I say more?  Canada's economy and our well being does not need a major oil shock.  Sometimes there is a price to be paid for that type of security.    

I know there are many in western Canada who believe the Trump administration will okay the rest of Keystone XL.  I put out a release last week reminding Saskatchewanians that could be a two-edge sword.  President Trump is threatening all sorts of dire consequences to the NAFTA trade agreement but I think would love Keystone XL pipeline because it guarantees large volumes of discounted Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries for decades.  If that pipe is twinned, we could see refined products being shoved back into Canada at a cost our own refiners can't compete with. 

We must be careful in western Canada what we wish for and what kind of trade agreement we need in place to make sure that Canada's energy wealth continues to build our country.  Remember - for every American President that is a free trader - there is one that is an economic nationalist and every time the American elephant rolls over, all lesser creatures should be aware of how heavy that elephant is. 

The PC Party many years ago helped build two heavy oil upgraders in Saskatchewan because it spoke to our energy strengths.  I would hate to see that foresight thrown away some day with short-sighted policy decisions in four year election cycles. 

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning

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

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