David Marsden: Our oil could use a good friend

Yes, it’s old news that Justin Trudeau failed to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council.

The prime minister expended much of his political capital — and Canadians’ tax dollars — on his failed bid to win a temporary seat among the supposed movers and shakers of global diplomacy.

Still, the dregs of Trudeau’s humiliating first-round defeat are worth sifting through.

Foremost is Norway’s decision in recent days to ease the tax rules for its oil industry to stave off a crippling lack of investment.

Norway, along with Ireland, beat out Canada for Trudeau’s seat at the UN.

Lefties had cited Canada’s strong energy industry, among other reasons, for Canada’s unsuitability for the position.

Norway’s decision to support and grow its oil industry stands in sharp contrast to anything Eastern Canada’s Liberals have done to support our sector.

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Norway will allow oil companies to write off investments more quickly, which postpones tax payments for years to come.

It has also expanded the area available for exploration, freeing up largely untouched blocks of the Arctic.

“Even if the government pursues a policy of becoming less dependent on oil, it’s important to prevent the current crisis from making the decline so rapid, that we lose key competence that will help the transition,” said Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

It’s worth reading the remarks of Norway’s leader again.

Instead, we have Trudeau hell bent on burying the industry as quickly as possible with his actions that prevent future pipelines from being built and ban the export of bitumen from Canada’s northern west coast.

Trudeau’s anti-energy animus led to taxpayers’ purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, when the alacrity with which he was hastening the demise of Canada’s No. 1 industry was revealed.

As Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage has noted, Norway’s public oil wealth fund recently sold off its holdings in our largest energy companies, purportedly because of climate-change concerns.

Now, the nation is doubling down on the same industry itself.

“It’s more than a disconnect. It’s hypocritical,” said Savage.

As much as Trudeau may wish to deny it, the energy industry is critical to today and tomorrow’s economy.

In recent days, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund has announced it is among the partners in a $10-billion investment in Saudi Arabia’s energy industry, in what is likely to be the world largest fossil-fuel underwriting of the year.

“This strategic transaction is attractive to Ontario Teachers’ as it provides us with a stake in a high-quality infrastructure asset with stable, long-term cash flows, which will help us deliver on our pension promise,” said the plan’s chief investment officer, Ziad Hindo.

The purchase proves wise investors, even those who represent public-sector workers, who aren’t known to be the biggest cheerleaders of the fossil-fuel industry, know that oil and gas have a bright future. Or, at least, rosy prospects in jurisdictions around the world that choose reality over naivete.

Trudeau’s global UN gallivanting was only cut short by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was forced to come home and set up stage in front of the Governor General’s cottage, in place of his performances in more exotic locales.

In Ottawa, he’s doled out billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief every day — money that is presumably going to be paid back, by what?

The disappearing auto manufacturing industry? Lacklustre Quebec aeronautics?

Let’s hope so. Trudeau has purposely rendered Canada’s energy industry — perhaps because it’s based in the West — a nasty body blow.

He has kneecapped a national source of wealth, pride and self-sufficiency that is embraced by forward-looking nations, as well as pension plan investors looking to gain the best return for their members.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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