American President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline’s presidential permit on Jan. 20 has been an unpopular one, both among the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors and the industry at large, and MP Bob Zimmer.
CAODC CEO Mark Scholz was quick to criticize the decision, and demanded the federal government respond.
“Oil and gas is by far Canada’s largest export and most important job creator. With the stroke of a pen, President Biden eliminated thousands of jobs at a time when they are so desperately needed,” Scholz said in a statement. “The Association respectfully calls on the federal government to respond with the same urgency and commitment as it did when other Canadian strategic interests were impacted. We need the same ‘Team Canada’ that fought for workers in our manufacturing sector to fight for the hard-working women and men in our energy sector.”
In the weeks since, Scholz remains displeased with the response he’s seen from the federal government.
“I’m sure there are discussions happening behind the scenes we may not be aware of, in terms of diplomatic channels used to discuss the issue, but I don’t think what we’ve seen publicly is sufficient enough to highlight the critical blow that the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has the potential to create in Canada,” Scholz said, adding the pipeline is “extremely important to our country and our energy sector.”
Zimmer said U.S. cancellation of Keystone is another example of a breakdown in the relationship between the two countries. As for Canada, if a snap federal election is called, Zimmer said energy independence, self-sufficiency, and a national energy corridor will be important matters for Canadians to consider.
“We get it out in the west, we get it in the north, about how much energy matters to Canada, and us, especially when it gets 10 degrees below zero. It’s a different understanding when we get closer to the middle of the country, and Ontario and Quebec,” Zimmer said.
“We’ve learned this over the past couple of years, even our friends in Ontario and Quebec they would prefer to buy and fill up their vehicles with Canadian petroleum than from some other country, or places like Saudi Arabia that don’t have our human rights records nor our environmental standards.”
Scholz said the environmental standards that Canada has set and the quality of labour rights here are some of the reasons this was a poor decision for the Biden to make.
“The reality is that if the Biden administration were to truly live out what it preaches, when it comes to climate change, it’s critical that energy be produced in Canada. We are the best of the best when it comes to climate technologies to reduce emissions, and we do it in the most environmentally friendly way and with the best labour and human rights anywhere in the world. I’m a bit baffled by the decision,” Scholz said.
In the short term, Scholz said the impact was felt in “thousands of workers from Canada and the United States receiving their pink slips at once due to the discontinuation of work, at a time when jobs are of critical of importance.”
Scholz said it’s important for Canada to have exposure to the U.S. market if it is to satisfy the growing demands for petroleum products around the world.
“This is of strategic importance of Canada, a net exporter of energy. We need as many ways as possible to have sufficient access to both international and American markets, or it will create investment concerns in Canadian energy resources,” he said.
Zimmer said more work can be done in informing Canadians of the importance of cross-Canada and international pipelines as well.
“We already get most of our imports of energy from the United States and places across the Atlantic. We’ve seen shipments now start to occur where they’re going through Panama to the East Coast of our country with Canadian product, which is great. But we need to have a bigger discussion about that energy corridor, or pipeline, across our country,” Zimmer said. “We need to make that particular project a flag and make it a nation-building type thing. I think we’d have Canadians supportive of a project like that.”
Email reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.