Chuck Fowler: Canada needs bold vision to move our resource industries forward


The leaves have changed to their beautiful fall colours while big box stores obnoxiously set out Christmas decorations before Halloween. The scent of pumpkin spice lattes fill the air and sandals with the floor heat on in your car is considered acceptable. 

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It would be business as usual, but this year there is one major exception — the federal election. 

Dreaded by some and embraced by others, it’s a chance for change or to keep the status quo. Now in full swing, the streets are dotted with campaign signs and news feeds are chalked with political promises in an attempt to woo voters. This election is vitally important to the energy industry, with the potential to signal either more storm clouds in the future or a break in the weather. 

To borrow a now famous phrase, it hasn’t exactly been “sunny ways” for our industry. 

It would be easy to hack on the current government for all the woes the industry currently finds itself in, but it would be unfairly stated. We have been a victim of our own success with the technological advancements that have been made in resource extraction to bring a lot of product to market in a very short period of time. Prices collapsed making it unprofitable for producers, and we all know how that’s been going. Then add a dash of having nowhere to ship product, a pinch of political waffling and it’s been a recipe for disaster. 

In this time of turmoil, we need a federal government that is in full support of our industry. This support cannot be in platitudes but in actionable defence and advancement of our industry. 

The divestiture in Canadian energy in the last couple of years is staggering and we need to stop the bleeding. It’s not enough for our politicians to say, “I won’t do what they did.” We need forward-thinking political parties and leaders to keep our industry competitive on the global stage. It’s one thing to say the world needs more Canadian energy; it’s another to have sound strategies to get it there. 

The obvious has been rightly stated over and over again: more pipelines, more market access. What needs to be more evident is a long-term vision from our government. The kind of vision we’ve seen historically that put a rail line coast to coast, because it served the interest of Canada as a whole. We need a government putting together clear and concise regulations and timelines that people understand and trust. Fair but firm rules of engagement for the producers to follow, taking into account the environment, people, and the economy. 

The key here is clarity and vision as a path forward. Should we future-proof our economy, investing in renewables and other energy forms? Yes, of course, we should, at the same time recognizing the fact that resource development has paid the rent in Canada for quite some time. We need to move forward unapologetically with the investment in our resource industries. 

This election season, I’m looking for more than a “But they did this,” or a “We won’t do that.” I’m looking for a clear vision for our industry. 

I can’t stop tripping over Christmas trees when shopping for Halloween costumes at Wal-Mart. I can, however, ask for our politicians to come to us with ideas to move our industry forward.

Chuck Fowler lives and works in Fort St. John. 

@ Copyright Pipeline News North


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