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COLUMN: Canadians On Board With Producing More Oil And Gas To Squeeze Out Putin

Oil SecondStreet.org
Pipeline engineers work on a new oil pipeline in British Columbia (photo: Kinder Morgen)


New public opinion research – commissioned by SecondStreet.org – shows that 78% of Canadians support the idea of our country developing and exporting more oil and natural gas so the world can reduce its purchases from Russia.

Will our Members of Parliament in Ottawa act on this sentiment? Will provincial governments follow suit?

It has been three weeks since Putin’s war machine rolled into Ukraine and began shelling apartment buildings, hospitals and even Europe’s largest nuclear reactor. The images are horrific – particularly ones involving young children, pregnant mothers, and senior citizens.

There were no “Sponsored by Canada” signs on the back of Russia’s tanks, but it has been abundantly clear for weeks that Western nations, including Canada, had unwittingly helped pay for this invasion by buying billions of dollars’ worth of Russian oil and natural gas over the past decade.

Global security requires the world – especially Western nations – to halt these purchases from Russia going forward.

Canada’s abundance of both oil and natural gas resources puts our nation in a good position to produce and export more resources to reduce the world’s reliance on Russia. Our oil and gas industry knows where the deposits are, they have the technology to extract them and investors would line up in a heartbeat. The problem of course is many governments have been rejecting most of these projects for years in the name of “saving the environment.”

The reality is that the world is expected to use both oil and natural gas for decades to come. If Canada doesn’t churn out an extra barrel of oil, then Putin will. So, there is no environmental benefit, all we’re doing by keeping our oil and natural gas in the ground is helping Putin’s war machine. Considering Russia is a neighbour of Canada’s in the Arctic, our nation has a strategic incentive to approve more projects and reduce Russian sales.

The March public opinion research procured by SecondStreet.org was conducted by Leger, one of Canada’s most reputable polling firms. It not only shows a large majority strongly support (53%) or somewhat support (25%) developing more oil and gas, but that a large majority exists across Canada, among all age groups and among both men and women.

When drafting the questions, we thought public support might rise if some kind of environmental stipulation was included. We put forward the option of governments approving more oil and natural gas projects, but committing to use the corporate tax revenues from those new projects to pay for environmental activities that reduce emissions. This option received 68% support and is a middle ground option for politicians – who are looking for a “green” element – to get behind.

One interesting finding was that even in Quebec (a province that announced a ban on developing natural gas late last year), a majority of respondents support developing and exporting more resources.

Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein used to say that his job was to figure out where the parade was going, so he could jump in front of it. While Klein would sometimes participate in real parades, he was of course referring to public opinion and the opportunity politicians have to advance public policy changes if the public was on board.

In this case, the public is moving in one direction, but it’s missing a parade leader.

Colin Craig is the President of SecondStreet.org, a Canadian think tank. You can reach him at colin@secondstreet.org or follow him on Twitter (@colincraig1)

Article originally published by the Toronto Sun.

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