CALGARY HERALD COLUMN: Cost of cancelled projects is equal to building a new arena every day for a year

We have seen many news stories in the past few years about major oil, gas, and mining projects being cancelled in
our country. recently tallied up the total for those projects and it’s a staggering number, a loss that has resulted in economic consequences right across the country. However, Canadians should take note this massive economic sacrifice is for negligible environmental gain.

The list of cancelled projects we compiled stretches from coast to coast and involves everything from a copper mine in British Columbia to a natural gas project in New Brunswick. Since 2014, we identified $213 billion worth of cancelled or stalled projects.

The figure is so large it’s almost impossible to comprehend.

What it works out to is more than the cost of building an NHL-sized arena in Canada every single day for a year.

And just like NHL arenas, natural resource projects require a small army of workers, spanning a wide range of occupations to bring the initiatives to fruition. Of course, these projects require oil industry workers and miners, but there are also people who run the work camps, organize employee travel and payroll, accountants, lawyers and people who help sell the commodities. These projects also have environmental officers who make sure the equipment is running smoothly and the environment is protected.

That brings us to the second point Canadians should consider — the environmental gain from cancelling these projects is negligible.

When Canada cancels an oil and gas or mining project, does the world go without those resources? No, other countries simply increase their production. To confirm this, try visiting your local Walmart and see if the stock shelves are bare. Hint: they won’t be. The metals and plastics that make up the TVs, bicycles, tools and toys on the shelves just end up coming from other countries.

By cancelling oil, gas and mining projects in Canada, all we’ve done is shift production of these resources to other countries — countries that don’t take the same care as our nation does with the environment.

We spoke with Dennis Giesbrecht about how Canada’s environmental policies stack up with other countries. Dennis is from Kamloops, B.C., and has worked on oil and gas projects around the world.

He told us he’s routinely surprised at how strict our policies are compared with other countries. For instance, Dennis told us that while he was stationed at a worksite in Chile, a diesel truck had a large spill and no one was tasked with cleaning it up. In Canada, such spills are required to be cleaned up and reported immediately. Great precautions are taken to ensure they don’t happen in the first place.

The U.S. oil and gas and mining sectors are firing on all cylinders right now. Russia is actually moving ahead with an oil project in the Arctic that is eight times larger than the enormous Teck oilsands mine that just pulled the plug in Canada. We’ve also seen stories about Canadian companies moving their drilling rigs to the United States.

Canadians should also take note that the current natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia, the one that some environmentalists are protesting, will actually help the planet. The natural gas from B.C. will be shipped to China where it will help reduce China’s dependence on coal, a fuel source that not only has significant greenhouse gases, it’s a key contributor to China’s smog problem.

Without a doubt, Canada is committing economic suicide right now when it comes to natural resource development. The United States, Russia and other countries may be thankful for the extra business they’re receiving, but it’s hard to find the upside for our nation.

Colin Craig is the president of, a new Canadian think tank.

This article originally appeared in the March 9 edition of the Calgary Herald.

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