Canadian pipelines debates keep raging. Nothing is new. We’ve been arguing the cursed things, both oil and natural gas, for 60-odd years.
Political polarizers from past decades include the TransCanada Mainline (1954); Edmonton-Montreal Pipeline (1957); Mackenzie Valley Pipeline (1974); Northern Gateway (2005); and Energy East (2013) to name a few. Despite the antipathy, the hold-ups, the bans, and the intermittent bottlenecks, Canada has grown to be the fifth largest oil and gas producer in the world. And if you take out undemocratic, state-controlled actors, we are number two.
Volume is only one calculus. There are better gauges of leadership in today’s unsettled world. Measured against any list, the Canadian oil and gas industry is setting the pace in carbon policy, environmental compliance, safety standards, indigenous collaboration, innovation, transparency, corporate governance, social responsibility and business competitiveness too.
That statement may rankle many in the country who question one or more claims. Yet what is the Canadian gauge for measurement? An inside scale with finer and finer increments placed on top of national, provincial or civic issues? Surely, the maxim “Think globally; act locally,” also suggests an assessment of our country viewed from an outside scale, measured against a yardstick of global norms.
Which brings me to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the source of much contention these days. The sixty-five-year-old steel tube in the ground has many stories to tell. My favourite is the tale of the oil tanker Kimon.