A Political Storm Over Canadian Energy Security

Gordon Laxer, Professor of political economy at the University of Alberta and Director of the Parklands Institute, created a political storm with his testimony before the International Trade Committee on Thursday. He was conducting a presentation on the energy and climate change implications of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), an agreement on greater integration between Canada, the US and Mexico. Professor Laxer pointed out that the deal, which refers to North American "energy security" as a priority, commits Canada to maintaining energy exports to the US, in the absence of a national plan or strategic reserve to protect its own security of supply.

According to the Ottawa Citizen,

At that point, Tory MP Leon Benoit, chair of the Commons Standing Committee on International Trade which was holding the SPP hearings, ordered Laxer to halt his testimony, saying it was not relevant.

Opposition MPs called for, and won, a vote to overrule Benoit's ruling.

Benoit then threw down his pen, declaring, "This meeting is adjourned," and stormed out, followed by three of the panel's four Conservative members.

The remaining members voted to finish the meeting, with the Liberal vice-chair presiding.

Benoit's actions are virtually unprecedented, observers say; at press time, parliamentary procedure experts still hadn't figured out whether he had the right to adjourn the meeting unilaterally. Benoit did not respond to calls for comment.

Presentation on the SPP to the International Trade Committee

Gordon Laxer
Political Economy Professor, and The Director
Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta
May 10, 2007


Parkland Institute is an Alberta-wide research network at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. We are supported by over 600 individual members and dozens of progressive organizations. Parkland Institute conducts research and education for the public good.

My remarks are on the energy and climate change implications of the SPP.

Why No Energy Security for Canadians?

I don’t understand why Canada is discussing helping to ensure American energy security when Canada has no energy policy, and no plans or enough pipelines, to get oil to Eastern Canadians during an international supply crisis. Canada is the most vulnerable member of the International Energy Agency - IEA, yet recklessly exports a higher and higher share of its oil and gas to the U.S. This locks Canada into a higher share under NAFTA’s proportionality clause. Instead of guaranteeing U.S. energy security, how about a Canadian SPP – Secure Petroleum Plan for Canada?

While rising Canadian oil exports help wean America off Middle Eastern oil, Canada is shirking responsibility to Canadians. Rising Canadian exports are perversely leading to greater Middle Eastern imports for Canada.

We import about 40% of our oil - 850,000 barrels per day, to meet 90 per cent of Atlantic Canada's and Quebec's needs, and 40 per cent of Ontario's. A rising share, 45 per cent comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Imports from North Sea suppliers – Norway and Britain –are shrinking (37 per cent).

Many eastern Canadians heat their homes with oil. Yet we have no plan to send domestic supplies to them. Why not? In which NAFTA country are the citizens most likely to freeze in the dark?

The National Energy Board’s mandate is to "promote safety and security ... in the Canadian public interest". Yet they wrote me on April 12: "Unfortunately, the NEB has not undertaken any studies on security of supply." This is shocking.

I asked the NEB about whether Canada is considering setting up a Strategic Petroleum Reserve under its membership in the IEA. The NEB replied that Canada "was specifically exempted from establishing a reserve, on the grounds that Canada is a net exporting country whereas the other members are net importers."

The IEA was set up by industrial countries in 1974 to counter OPECs boycotting power. The 24 members must maintain emergency oil reserves equivalent to 90 days of net imports. Only net-exporters are exempt. Canada shares this status with 3 other members.

Britain and Denmark have been net exporters, but set up strategic reserves, as required of European Union members. That leaves Norway and Canada. Norway doesn't need a reserve. Sensibly, it supplies its own citizens, before exporting surpluses.

Western Canada can’t supply all of Eastern Canadian needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans' security of supply. Canada now exports 63 per cent of our oil and 56 per cent of our natural gas production. Those export shares are currently locked in place by NAFTA's proportionality clause which requires us not to reduce recent export proportions. Mexico refused proportionality. It applies only to Canada.

As well, we don’t have the east-west pipelines to fully meet Eastern needs. Instead, 5 export pipelines are planned.

Although we have more than enough oil and gas to meet Canadians needs, Canada is the most exposed IEA member. Meanwhile, the U.S. is doubling its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Natural gas

Nor does Canada have a natural gas plan. At last summer G-8 meetings, Canada began negotiations to send Russian gas to Quebec. It is very risky. Recently, Russia cut natural gas exports to Ukraine and Byelorussia for political reasons.

Why import natural gas, when we could be self-sufficient and energy independent?


Those are official U.S. goals in its 2001 National Energy Policy - NEP. Domestic ownership too – remember Congress blocked a Chinese takeover of Unocal. The US didn’t draw up a continental security plan in 2001, but a national one, as Mexico has, like we should. Most countries have similar national policies.

No one is fooled by SPP talk that ‘North American energy security’ is anything more than US energy security.

I don’t advocate copying the U.S. on all energy policies - finding ‘their’ oil under someone else’s sands – Middle Eastern, and Alberta’s tarsands.

Strategic petroleum reserves help short-term crunches, but not long-term ones. Eastern Canadians’ best insurance is to restore the rule before the Free Trade Agreement - no energy exports before 25 years of ‘proven’ supply, not ‘expected’ supply.

The SPP is taking us in the wrong direction:

Quickening environmental approval of tarsands exports
More LNG terminals in Canada dedicated for U.S. export
Bringing in temporary Mexican workers without permanent resident rights

Paradigm Shift

Instead, Canada needs a paradigm shift to face the new realities:

security trumping trade – means that energy security for Canadians trumps NAFTA

climate change – The production of tarsands oil, ¾ of which is exported, is the single biggest contributor to our rising greenhouse gases. This is the gassy elephant in the living room everyone pretends not to see. Instead, we need a moratorium on new tarsands projects. Then, cut consumption to reduce carbon emissions.

NAFTA's proportionality clause – You won’t convince Canadians to cut fossil fuel use, as we must, if it means that whatever we save is exported to the U.S., the proportional requirement rises, and tarsands carbon emissions remain unchanged.


Instead of the SPP Canada needs a new energy security and conservation strategy. Canada has a NEP - No Energy Plan. It is not helping Alberta or other producing regions. The people of Alberta, the oil and gas owners, receive pitifully low royalties and other economic rents. Alberta and Norway have similar amounts of oil and gas, yet Alberta’s Heritage Fund was started in 1976 and has 12billion US. Norway started their fund in 1996 and has 250 billion US. Much of tarsands oil is shipped out raw without upgrading in Alberta.

Canada must do a national energy strategy differently – as a partnership with the producing provinces and territories. The 1980 National Energy Program had good goals - energy sufficiency, independence, Canadian ownership and security, but it was unilaterally imposed.

A new federal-provincial plan must raise economic rents in all their forms so producing regions can use the funds to transition to a post-carbon economy. Otherwise, in a generation, Alberta will become, not the rust belt like the U.S mid-west, but the fossil belt.


-No SPP before public hearings, bills before Parliament, the consent of Canadians
-No export of raw bitumen
-No environmental sacrifice zones in northern Alberta
-Higher economic rents
-Get a Mexican exemption on proportionality
-Finally, a new SPP – Secure Petroleum Plan for Canadians.

As an eastern Canadian, the lack of action on these fronts is appalling. We really, really need a major political party to stand up soon and say "we're pulling out of NAFTA". The Americans have shown little respect for the rules anyway (softwood lumber most famously), so we're really beating ourselves to death with rules that only we follow. A platform point of "Americans have no rights to our resources, under any circumstances" would play well in Canada, to say the least. Canada has maintained it's first world status as much due to the shear amount of raw materials we have as anything else. It's not just oil we ship without doing any of the truly profitable work to, the same happens for wood (sold to US, bought back as furniture), metals, water, grains, fish, etc. It's time to throw away the old rules and start building towards self-sufficiency. We should be making our our products not because it's the most profitable way (it's not), but because we'll need to eventually.

Within Canada, the eastern provinces have been sending such large numbers of people westward over the past decades that Alberta saying "let the easterners freeze in the dark" might not go over as well as it did 30 years ago. We're well-positioned to make the industry grind to a halt, just by not providing workers to the dirty beast of northern Alberta.

As an American, I'll ask you to please do anything that you can to undermine and overturn NAFTA. It certainly doesn't sound like it is in Canada's best interest, and I don't like it for America either.

Good fences make good neighbors, and I've about had my fill of globalism.

Good luck,
Steven in Dallas

I agree with my countryman Steven from Dallas.

You don't need to be co-dependent on our addiction problem. It will just make you sick, too. Get yourself to an Oilanon meeting and learn how to care for a sick relative, without supporting the addiction.

You have a beautiful country, don't mess it up just so my neighbor can buy yet another Hummer.


Here in Arizona, very few people use clotheslines, even though it's often as hot outside as inside the drier. However, Canadian gas is so cheap, why bother stepping into the dry heat outside when you can stay inside where it's cool?

At some point in the future, Canadians will run through their NG and be shivering in the dark. At that point, Arizonans will be forced to step outside to hang up their wet clothes.

I'm amazed at the political push to ban incandescent light bulbs and there is such little talk about clothes dryers.

The clothesline is a low cost, low maintenance solar clothes dryer that can save a huge amount of electricity and gas. It is awful hanging clothes out in the heat in Arizona, it's even worse doing it in the middle of winter in Canada, but the RH is low in both cases and clothes will dry. My mother used to hang almost everything out and didn't like the smell of clothes from a dryer, but we also lived on a grain farm and weren't short of fresh clean air.

Instead, clotheslines are banned in many urban areas:
NDP hangs out energy-saving proposal

People aren't necessarily too lazy to hang out laundry, but so many families have both spouses with careers. I fall into this group and we don't have a clothesline and we both have a busy schedule and think we don't have time to hang laundry out.

Or they could just build more nuclear power plants...

Good point. Canada has a great nuclear power plant design in the new CANDUs. But they would still be wise in the meantime to consider how much oil and gas they need internally before committing so much of it to the U.S.

No one is running a 'new' CANDU (ie a 3rd Generation one) so I'm not sure if they can be proven to be a 'great' design?

The old CANDUs were a complete disaster for Ontario Hydro, effectively bankrupting the company. The taxpayer of Ontario is still carrying the $30bn liability.

However many of them are running again, and running fairly well. Except for 2/14 units (?) which are complete writeoffs. There is an outline application to build 2 new ones at the Darlington site.

The policy decision taken (which makes sense economically) is that nuclear capacity will not exceed baseload. Ontario will never be giving electric power away at periods of low demand.

Of course, the eternal problem of transmission line capacity persists. There isn't enough capacity to get all the power into the centre of the GTA, at summer peak demand.

Quebec I can't see ever making a big new commitment to nuclear. New Brunswick I don't know what the plans are. The other Maritime Provinces I can't see going nuclear.

Electricity is roughly 1/3rd of the energy use in the economy, so if half Ontario's terrawatt hours are nuclear, then about 1/6th of its' energy will come from nuclear. If we really pushed heat pumps, etc., I could see that rising to 40%, so say 20% nuclear.

Canadians will run through their NG and be shivering in the dark

Canadians don't use that much NG in their homes...plus heat is relatively easy to generate (burn things, run current through them, etc.). When you've run through all the gas you can use, Arizonans will be forced to live through 35-45 degree days without endless supplies of air conditioning. Plus you'll run out of water (you can't have ours).

Basically, we're all screwed, right?

There is now $3500+ of rebates available to install a ground source heat pump AKA Earth Energy System in Canada. A province like Manitoba has 98% of it's electricity supplied by hydroelectric generation.

Earth-energy systems intended for ground-water or open-system applications have heating COP ratings ranging from 3.0 to 4.0, and cooling EER ratings between 11.0 and 17.0. Those intended for closed-loop applications have heating COP ratings between 2.5 and 4.0, while EER ratings range from 10.5 to 20.0.

That's a really odd thing to say re Canadians and natural gas.

Toronto boy here.

I would say 80-90% of people heat their homes with natural gas.

Probably at least half cook with gas as well.

At least half have gas hot water heaters.

So 4.5m people in GTA, say 3m of whom are dependent on gas for at least home heating, if not cooking and hot water.

Also Ontario Energy is building gas-fired stations to replace Nanticoke. There's a 500MW one going in on Toronto Waterfront.

Fair enough, I lived in Toronto, but was always in apartment buildings. I know (well, stats can says) that about 1.4 million people in Ontario live in apartment buildings (5 stories or more), and almost none of these buildings use natural gas in the apartments themselves (almost all electricity).

Almost no one in Nova Scotia uses natural gas, and I didn't notice anyone using it in BC while I was there either (although I was in Victoria, which might have a different infrastructure in place).

And have they finally settled and decided to actually build that damn power plant? It'll take more than a few of large gas plants to replace the Nanticoke behemoth, but NG beats coal (followed eventually by non fossil fuels, hopefully).

Hmmm... I thought most apartment buildings *did* use gas. It's just the furnace is in the basement? I'll have to consult my local expert ;-).

At least in NB, I *think* most people use wood and/or bottled gas. Bottled gas comes from the same place as natural gas?

(I once had an incredibly funny drunken discussion about natural gas with a guy from New Brunswick, a Phd engineering student. He thought we were teasing him, when we said that the gas in the house came out of a pipe in the ground. He found the idea completely frightening ;-).

I don't think there is a gas pipeline to Vancouver Island, but I could be wrong on that.

Yes the Toronto Harbour gas fired plant is well underway, last time I was home (last December). They wanted to do a smaller, combined heat and power unit, but they couldn't find an easy way to connect it to the central district steam heating system. A lost opportunity, in my view.

http://www.portlandsenergycentre.com/ nice photos

Honestly if you turned the gas off in Toronto, people would freeze to death. Natural gas is far and away the most common urban fuel source for Golden Horseshoe home owners.

Apartments I shall have to check.

I'll take your word for it, I guess I've just never lived directly in a place with NG access or direct NG heat, so I assumed there just weren't many. I know most large apartment buildings don't have a furnace in the basement providing heat (via hot air flow and ventilation), they have either hot water or electric heat in the walls. I guess the hot water could be from a NG fired hot water heater, and some of the electric heat would trace back to NG.

In NS, most houses use wood or oil furnaces (although I lived in a house with a heat pump at one point). I honestly can't recall what it was in Victoria...I think it's a mix of wood, gas, oil, and electric.

Mostly heating oil in Victoria. Electric on the mainland for apartments, gas for houses.

I also agree with Steven.

The U.S. needs our friends in Canada to show us how to live with less energy.

All addicts need the intervention of friends to kick the habit. I trust the Candian populace will continue to be good neighbors to the U.S. and convince broaden the debate to who is doing without energy when the U.S. continues to consume vast quantities.

I doubt you're going to get a good lesson from Canadians - we consume roughly the same energy per capita as USians do, and that is 50% more than French, Russians or Germans and double what the Japanese consume per capita. You know, Japan, that country with absolutely no heavy industry whatsoever? :-)


Another source:

Part of this is just the Canadian lifestyle. A big spread out country, with hot summers and harsh winters.

Part is the degree of very heavy resource industry we have: aluminum smelters, pulp mills, mining, tar sands etc. All of which burn lots of energy.

Part is just a huge lost opportunity. The R2000 home design has been around since the 80s, but most new homes are not built to anything like that standard. Swedes, with a similarly harsh climate, manage to make do with far lower energy consumption.

The process of suburbanisation eg in the GTA has been built entirely around low density, private cars etc.

Diesel cars are rare to unknown, whereas in Europe they are half of cars sold (though much less in Sweden-- I believe the cold morning start problem has been solved, but maybe the Swedes don't think so!).

Americans seldom take inspiration from Canada on anything, certainly not healthcare!

They see us as their slightly slow half brother, I think. Pleasant but a bit dull.

California has the same electricity consumption per capita now that it did in 1980, whereas the US as a whole it is 40% higher than it was then. Studies have shown this is not just shifting industry.

California has pioneered in energy efficiency standards for buildings, appliances etc.

*that* is a model for Americans of what can be achieved, with a little sweat and applied Yankee know-how.

It may be a political storm but it's not a very public one. A search for "Gordon Laxer" in recent online Globe and National Post editions turned up nothing.

You aren't really surprised are you porsena? Don't you think the red flags were raised within BigMedia when it discerned that Mr. Laxer isn't on the same page as them on energy issues? I mean, he doesn't even speak the same language - 'tar sands'?? 'bitumen'?? If he isn't even going to play their propaganda game to the degree that he use their much more marketable term 'oilsands', then I suspect he will find himself persona non grata within their info-empires. Pathetic how Mr. Benoit and his three other Reform Party toadies attempted to shut down the public hearings. The four contrarians could've simply stuck their fingers in their ears while repeatedly chanting "I can't hear you!" but then again, that would still have allowed others to possibly hear the message.

This may sound hackneyed, but you had to know this was coming when you elected Steve Harper. Harper is a US crony through and through, and if you think he has Canada's best interest at heart (either envrionmentally or economically), you are kidding yourself.

We didn't elect Harper...he won a slim minority government with around 36% of the vote for his party. The main problem is that we might expect it from the conservatives, but the Liberals have been allowing these situations to build for the past decade as well. Are they now figuring it out, or just opposing the cons in preparation for the next election?

On the plus side, with all the recent gaffes (torture problems, blinding incompetence, corruption, yep, it's a bush-light regime alright) it's looking less likely the cons can make a play for a majority. We can hope.

Finally, it can be said that there is no doubt the meeting could not be adjourned unilaterally according to the rules of parliament. The chair can ask for a motion of adjourment, but can't make it himself, or second it. Total immaturity and incompetence.

After all Adam, they are Liberals...

I wrote an article on this subject in Oct. of 2005. I also discuss Canada's 'Energy Supplies Emergency Act' The article can be found ... here

I haven't studied the SPP, but I get the impression its authors have in mind a North American LNG crisis coming soon that they will combat with LNG terminals dotted all over Canada to supply the lower 48 as opposed to getting this done through the politically crippled lame brains in the U.S. Congress. It seems that U.S. politics will go to any length to make our energy supply dependent on other nations.

Er, isn't Canada just a compliant vassal of the US? Guess Laxer didn't get that memo...

Part of the problem lies with the Canadian and US energy corporations determining the economic future of Canada. As soon as Ottawa decides to legislate some control of these companies, a pipeline may be built to the eastern provinces and a strategic petroleum reserve started. Don't blame everything on NAFTA and the US. Although I don't condone the energy heist that the US has commited through NAFTA, no country was forced to sign this treaty. Perhaps the Canadian population should start a movement to revoke the energy portions of it.
I don't see much that US citizens can do to help secure energy for Canada and prevent more environmental trashing of Alberta. It's all up to Canadians to rectify this problem. Furthermore, this issue is a good reason for Quebec not to think about economic and political independence. This issue could be a uniting force between Quebec and the balance of Canada

Part of the problem lies with the Canadian and US energy corporations determining the economic future of Canada. As soon as Ottawa decides to legislate...

I live in Saskatchewan and I think there is a disconnect with Central Canada caused by the historical political, population and manufacturing base in Ontario and Quebec and a national energy policy from Ottawa will be difficult to sell in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I think most farmers are still p.o.'ed at Trudeau for telling them to sell their own wheat 30 years ago. :)

I hope that an energy shortage improves sovereignty in Canada and doesn't go the other way. Canada having a low population and abundant resources is better off nationalizing and lowering exports to the US. You can take that idea farther and in a gas, oil and/or refinery capacity shortage situation, Alberta and Saskatchewan are better off without the rest of Canada.

The west has the coal, oil and gas, but Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have the hydroelectric power. It would be great for Canada to see the infrastructure go in to share those resources bilaterally across Canada rather than hydro getting exported to the US, the manufacturing jobs existing in Ontario and Alberta feeling that the US has done more for their economy than Central Canada and not really caring that there is a gasoline shortage in Toronto.

Saskatchewan has existed as a "have not" province in Canada with little political sway nationally. We have plenty of oil , gas and refinery capacity, but gas is $1.20/L in Regina today. I don't know if there is empathy in Alberta when someone from Central Canada starts calling the Alberta oil "ours".

If your citizens can's act collectively as a country, then I think you have no hope to change the status quo regarding energy security.

People in the US consider themselves citizens of the United States of America and only residents of California, New York, Missouri, etc. We put our national interest ahead of our regional interest. Too bad Canadians as a whole can't do the same.

We put our national interest ahead of our regional interest.

I think the issue with North American trade agreements and energy is that the USA puts their regional and national interest ahead of international interest.

The softwood lumber and BSE examples prove that lobby groups have enough political sway in the US to have policies implemented that ignore agreements as long as they benefit American special interest groups with lobby capacity. Biofuels in the USA are a method to work around NAFTA and subsidize agriculture. The increase in corn acres due to ethanol has put pressure on the NH3/urea supply, forcing up fertilizer prices. This directly affects Canadian agriculture's profitability. The upside is that feed grain prices are up because of the US ethanol bender.

Biofuels are an area where energy policy gets convoluted. Saskatchewan has the majority of potash and fertilizer production is based in Western Canada. An increasing portion of NG is going to fertilizer and ethanol plants. If Canada develops a national energy plan, does that include fertilizer? What about Canadian feed wheat and Canola going to biofuels?

"People in the US consider themselves citizens of the United States of America and only residents of California, New York, Missouri, etc. We put our national interest ahead of our regional interest."

Ah, that's not totally accurate. There are large blocks of the US population whose primary loyalty and interest is to their state, their religion, or even to a foreign country.

Especially in Washington DC

The reason the Canadians can't do anything to stop policies detrimental to the Canadian people is the same reason we can't in the US. We only pretend to have Democratic governments. Actually we have representational governments and the representatives are not representing the people. They are representing the corporate interests of their repective districts.

First, a tip of the hat to all Canadians. I've traveled many times throughout Canada's western and northern provinces, and I'm always impressed with the friendliness and sincerity of Canadians I meet. Real good people, keep me returning as much as anything.

BC, in addition to Manitoba and the east, has great hydropower, but as I understand it, it is increasingly being sold south for green energy credit. The Frasier system in particular.

The Canadian part of the Columbia system interestingly was first developed for the US. Not for hydropower, but rather for storage and buffering above Grand Coulee and the lower Columbia dams. Keenleyside Dam, forming Arrow Lake, lacks turbines, unless they've been installed in the last 10 years. It is a marvel, though, how the whole system works, and the power it generates.

Thanks for the hat tip. :-)

Keenleyside Dam, forming Arrow Lake, lacks turbines, unless they've been installed in the last 10 years.

You might be interested to learn:

In 2002 the provincially owned Columbia Power Corporation completed construction of a 185 MW powerplant adjacent to the [Keenleyside] dam.


Your take on "not for hydropower" is not accurate, today at least. The Mica dam has a capacity of 1736 MW, and Revelstoke dam has a capacity of 1843 MW (upgradeable to 2764 MW). Revelstoke was apparently built after, and not covered by, the Columbia River Treaty.


I have no connection with BC Hydro, I'm just interested in history and geography and engineering and... you know, stuff.

Thanks alot for the update, esp your second link:
"The three dams in B.C. were developed to provide water storage for power generation in the U.S."

I have heard that Mica was constructed for flood control and live storage, 7 million acre feet I believe, and didn't get turbines for several years. The US provided the money to build the dams originally, and a payment of 273 million for power generated in the US.

The original treaty expired in the 90's-do you know what has replaced it? I imagine that the flows are still regulated at Coulee Dam by the BPA, but not sure. I noted the levels recently on Lake Roosevelt were down about 70 feet-lowest I've seen in a long time-and heard that a high snopack coupled with a warm spring has everyone antsy about flooding.

You're welcome.

I know only what I can find on the web. :-) Wikipedia is not a highly reliable source, but this article I'm inclined to believe is accurate.


The Treaty has no specified termination date, but either Canada or the United States can terminate the Treaty any time after 16 September 2024, provided a minimum ten years written notice is provided. Certain terms of the Treaty continue for the life of the projects, however, including Called Upon flood control provisions, Libby coordination obligations and Kootenay River diversion rights.

The Wikipedia article has great photos of the Mica, Duncan and Keenleyside dams.

Also of interest:

Grand Coulee is pretty darn big...

The actual Treaty appears to be available online at


It was signed in 1964 and Article XIX states

(2) Either the United States of America or Canada may terminate the Treaty other than [certain excepted portions] at any time after the Treaty has been in force for sixty years if it has delivered at least ten years written notice to the other of its intention to terminate the Treaty.

So that matches Wikipedia's claim about 2024.

The name at the bottom of the treaty definitely rings a bell for Canadians: Paul Martin (Senior) was the father of Paul Martin, prime minister of Canada not all that long ago (2006).

Likewise Dean Rusk rings a bell for me and most older Americans. Enough said on that.

My source, an older book, must have confused the 30 year payment for power with the treaty length. Treaty definitely states sixty, payment for power, USD, for a 30 year period.

It seems a ruling characteristic of Canada to always be on the verge of falling apart as a country. Disunited in our unity ;-).

If I had my preferences, just as the European Parliament moves to Strasbourg from Brussels, for part of every year (at a huge cost in terms of energy and CO2 I might add), I would move the Canadian parliament to Winnipeg or Regina, say, for 1 year out of every two.

Believe it or not, England was once governed that way. The King would move his court to York, to be able to govern the northern half of the country. And to keep an eye on the Scots ;-).

Ontario has almost tapped out its hydro resources. They are about 20% of the total generation picture, from memory, and they'll never get more than a couple of points higher.

(that damned glaciation flattened the Canadian Shield ;-)

Ontario could (and should) get into bed with Manitoba to finance the hydro potential there. With modern long distance DC power transmission, that power could light up all of northern Ontario (which probably wants to join Manitoba anyways ;-).

Of course there are native land claims to settle ;-).

On Saskatchewan oil, the price of gasoline in the Highlands of Scotland, a couple of hundred kms from the offshore fields, is higher than it is in London. The fuel gets refined, and then trucked up into the Highlands, and that makes it more expensive than tanker loads of petrol going by sea to the south of England. You *should* have lower prices than Ontario, because you are closer to the refineries, but that may not be the case. A lot depends on your gas tax, too.

I think it's the nature of Canada that if there is an American higher bidder for a resource, they will sell to them than to a fellow Canadian.

The big thing in Alberta was Trudeau's 1980 National Energy Policy, which was nationalisation, by the back door, of the oil industry. Not for nothing is Petrocan HQ known in Calgary as 'Red Square' ;-). People still talk about it, and still fear a renewed move by the Federal Government to grab 'their' oil.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan (and, in fact, farmers in Ontario) just get scr-wed whatever happens ;-).

"...no country was forced to sign this treaty"

The problem is that some leaders have more loyalty to
the globalist's vision than to their own nation's. Such
leaders actually seem to try and disolve national identity.
It appears to me that the disolution of national identity
simply makes it easier for global corporations to
take what they want from where ever 'it' is.

Steven in Dallas

Question: suppose it is necessary to send troops to Canada to quell al Qaeda terrorists who don't want to send oil and gas south. Will Canada contribute a contingent to that force? Hm.

Well that's about the dumbest thing I've read in a while.

Do you have any idea what kind of attention a car load of alQ terrorists would garner driving around Alberta?

Give your head a shake man.

Do you have any idea what kind of attention a car load of alQ terrorists would garner driving around Alberta?

Exactly the same as a 4x4 full of Rednecks in Afghanistan.


Dudley Do-Right would be there to arrest them, anyways.

Or at least Sergeant Benton.

The AQ wouldn't have a chance in Alberta.

Hello Stoneleigh,

Thxs for the fascinating report! I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the wasteful use of Canadian resources by my fellow Americans. Our US govt. has known about the ramifications arising from PO + GW + Overshoot for decades yet has done nothing to mitigate.

It would have been far better to have drained Mexico, Texas, and the GoM first, and not touched the FFs in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and Canada until the bitter end. This is when the few remaining millions [ala James Lovelock] finally reach the Northern Polar Tropics of Gaia. Those inhabitants of Ellesmere Island, Northern Greenland, and Barrow, Alaska would then have sufficient FFs to run their personal A/C units in a last ditch stand against extinction by heat exhaustion and lethal dehydration.

The quest for Spice continues.....

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the wasteful use of Canadian resources by my fellow Americans.

'salright. I apologize for the wasteful use of Canadian resources by my fellow Canadians.

Tightening supplies to the US would help force us to deal with needed changes in the long run. We obviously need to reorganize our transportation system here, along with our McMansion, McHummer, McCredit lifestyle/atttitude.
Having reserves would be in your best interests.
Nothing will prevent the coming problems, it will not be easy. The US is like a spoiled child, I expect alot of tantrums.
I have visited your country on the western side on the way to Alaska. My God how beautiful it is, please keep it that way. If I could only enact a $2,000 littering fine like yours. The GST is very intelligent as well.
Good luck in holding the US back. Maybe we in the US can grow up a bit.

I have an old motorhome that I restored and our family enjoys for vacation, and I'm not being judgemental, this is just an observation.

We spend a lot of time in Canadian parks and every summer there are convoys of 50' motorhomes and 1 ton trucks pulling 40' campers with 2 retired American passengers that head through here on their way to Alaska for the summer. I don't imagine with gas at $1.20/L and diesel at $0.90/L that this summer will be any different. For us with 3 kids and a dog, camping is still an economical vacation regardless of the price of fuel and I think every American should take a trip through Canada and enjoy the country and hopefully gain some perspective.

($1.20/L CAN ~ $3.90/USG USD)

Great post. I was unaware of this
This is a critical issue.

1 Who do we write to in Ottawa to raise this as an issue
2 Which parts of the media have picked up this story - need to get it in the press as an ongoing dialog
3 There is an election coming - this must get on the agenda

I agree that this issue needs to be debated in the media. The Citizen story is the only one I'm aware of and it was apparently by no means prominently displayed. I suggest you send the link for this story to the editor of your local paper and your local MP, as well as to any local opposition MPs in order to start a real public debate. If all readers do this, the issue should get some attention.

Peter Julian of the NDP is the lead on the issue.

Don't expect a response from either the PCs or Libs on the matter - both are full supporters of SPP and NAU.

We need to think this through (or rather here is the little that I understand - please correct me)
- North America is supposed to be a unified energy market i.e
all oil and gas and electicity flows both ways cross border freely

- witness the power blackout in the east a few years back - it hit ontario as well as new york (and of course the US first reaction was to blame canada)

- when hurricane katrina hit, gas prices across Canada spiked in tandem with US

- A Canada first policy would be a "beggar thy neighbour" policy - we do 85% of our trade with the US. If they go down due to high energy prices, we go down. We are in this lifeboat together. free trade is free trade - keep it truly free and we both benefit

- the US 600M barrel SPR is really to Canada's benefit, given unified energy. think about it - is the US going to say - we are not going to allow the oil companies who take oil from SPR to ship products to canada? they can't. we are both locked in together.

- the Alberta Heritage Fund has a lot of history and issues so its not directly compareable to Norway. one big one is the capital cost associated with building the oilsands infrastructure whish is a tax write off as it should be - therefore lower royalties

- the oilsands have TRILLIONS of barrels of oil reserves - we are at the very beginning of a 100 year run, so these policies will get addressed over time

... so - I have great respect and friendship for our gun crazy neighbour to the south, but I also think the Canadian Government has done a disservice to not address this, and we need to have a full dialog to work through all the issues. Maybe even a Royal Commission

for our gun crazy neighbour to the south

Canada had an estimated 10 million firearms in 1974, although only 6.4 million have been registered to date. This is around 1 firearm per Canadian household. For whatever reason, we have a lot of firearms per capita, but don't shoot each other with them very often.

On a side note, international suicide rates in young people are hard to understand.

The 'tar' sands may have 1.7 trillion barrels of oil in place, however, it's estimated that a mere 175 Gb are recoverable.

GHG emissions, NatGas usage and water supply concerns notwithstanding of course.

Thank you for bringing this up Stoneleigh, it really looks serious.

As a foreigner I don’t feel much moral ground to comment on this, but Canada looks like a divided nation, half profiting from hydrocarbon exports another half increasingly dependent on imports. It can go wrong rapidly.

And when you consider plans to import Russian gas…

Is there any chance of TOD:C starting some kind of social movement around this? A petition or something similar? Or isn’t it realistic?

I've got news for all you fancy easterners. Start conserving now. If you think you're going to fuck us again, like you did with the NEP back in the 80s - THINK AGAIN!

You stole TWO HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS worth of our oil to subsidize your manufacturing base - and then made us buy your products at inflated prices. Ain't gonna happen again.

God Bless NAFTA. It protects us - from you. Start saving your pennies, boys and girls. You're gonna need 'em...

And to those of you reading this thread without knowing internal Canadian politics: Alberta: It's big, got lots of oil and therefore money, and somehow feels put upon despite this vast wealth. Also, they control the current federal gov't (the minority part anyway), siphon off workers from the rest of the country, and elected a man who was proudly uneducated and a drunkard as premier for many many years.

Oh, and "easterners" did steal anything either. First off, Easterners does not properly refer to those in Ontario and Quebec (as this post must, because there ain't no frigging manufacturing base in the East), it's those east of there. You know, 4 provinces (out of 10) on the east coast. Almost 3 million people (hey, that's almost 10%)? Those in Ontario are more properly referred to as Central Canadian (and sometimes bastards).

Secondly, so sorry we didn't let Texan interests take control and vast profits from the oil fields in Alberta. See, one uniformed generalization fights another. Here's a fairer summary:

the NEP was designed to promote oil self-sufficiency for Canada, maintain the oil supply, particularly for the industrial base in eastern Canada, promote Canadian ownership of the energy industry, promote lower prices, promote exploration for oil in Canada, promote alternative energy sources, and increase government revenues from oil sales through a variety of taxes and agreements.

It didn't work perfectly (does any gov't program?), but it was a federal gov't program. You know, those crazy things where the country as a whole may benefit despite one area being slightly worse off.

Yikes. The two of you managed to reiterate what I said above in slightly stronger language. :)

Where I work, we have a very diverse mix of people from across Canada as well as internationally and I was discussing this issue with a few of them today.

I think from a Western Canadian point of view, there are two concepts in this with two separate reactions.

1) If you ask someone from Alberta or Saskatchewan if a policy should be put in place to give central Canada a discount in oil and gas to increase Central Canada's profitability and standard of living at the West's expense they are going to react extremely negatively.

2) If you tell someone from Alberta or Saskatchewan that a family is freezing in Central Canada because they have no oil or NG for heat, they will probably load up a tanker and drive it there themselves.

This happened the other way when there was a hay shortage in Western Canada.

Thanks for your various perspectives on Canadian unity (or lack thereof in some cases). This issue is of great interest to me. I am curious to know to what extent there may exist separatist sentiments in the West.

My brother lives in St Johns and tells me that separatism (or at least strong autonomy) is very much alive and well in Newfoundland. Apparently the green, white and pink separatist flag is more commonly seen than the Canadian flag, and Danny Williams becomes more popular at home every time he unleashes a tirade against the federal government.

My own view, as a resident of Central Canada, is that Canada will do far better in the future if it can remain united, although I see a country becoming more fissile by the day. Anyone interested in this issue might like to read The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau, which was written some 20 years ago but still seems very relevant today.

ahh, Newfoundland. My three years' residence in St. John's left me the impression that it's southern Canada's most distinct society. It's less than 60 years since it was dragged into Confederation against the wishes of almost half the inhabitants, and from that time until Oil its economy was kept afloat by handouts from the federal government. How short a memory these good times separatists have! The cod's gone already. After the oil's gone, then what?

I can never remember the source of the quote (or even the precise quote). Some comedian. But it is a handy one-sentence guide to Canadian regionalism.

"The one thing that unites Canadians from coast to coast is their hatred of Toronto."

(There's another one about "a little healthy hatred from region to region", but I can never remember it clearly.)

Kunstler suggests in the Long Emergency that the US may break up into regional groupings of mutual self-interest. I see a similar thing would be likely in Canada. I expect some of the new regional domains would ignore the original border as well.

In a post-peak situation where practical focus moves much closer to home, Saskatchewan might have more in common with the Dakotas than with PEI. Likewise a much more localised (southern) Ontario polity might have more in common with the US states around the Great Lakes than with B.C.

It's not difficult to see even now. The best internet connections are usually North-South, not East-West. Same with the pipelines and powerlines (generally).

It'd be a very sad day if this happens. Canada is a great country (not perfect, definitely), and there are good people everywhere. Even Toronto and Calgary.

Just don't breathe "NEP" to anyone west of the Canadian shield.

In a post-peak situation where practical focus moves much closer to home, Saskatchewan might have more in common with the Dakotas than with PEI. Likewise a much more localised (southern) Ontario polity might have more in common with the US states around the Great Lakes than with B.C.

It's not difficult to see even now. The best internet connections are usually North-South, not East-West. Same with the pipelines and powerlines (generally).

This is precisely the arguement that Joel Garreau made in The Nine Nations of North America. He traveled around the continent and observed what factors shaped the culture and outlook in different places. He found that political borders and 'cultural borders' did not correspond at all, and that north-south connections were indeed stronger than east-west. I would strongly recommend the book as a discussion-starter on this issue.

Fancy easterners, God Bless NAFTA???

A tad melodramatic for 2007.

It's nothing like 50/50. 80-90% of the gas and oil reserves are in one province, Alberta, which is the richest province, about 40% richer per inhabitant than the country as a whole, has the lowest taxes. Saskatchewan and BC are bit players in that.

Alberta is our Texas. Alberta has a bible thumper reputation. It's 'big sky country'.

From memory Alberta has about 4.0 million people (am I out of date on this? It could be closer to 5m these days) or between 1/7th and 1/8th of the total of the country. Greater Toronto has just about the same number of people as Alberta.

Quebec and Ontario have 21 million people, or over 2/3rds of the country.

The political history was about farmers feeling dealt out by the industrial interests in central Canada, which controlled the railways and set high import tariffs to protect their interests.

The oil dispute is just another iteration of a grievance which is as old as Confederation (1867 although Alberta entered in 1905). Of farmer v. industrial, rural v. urban, resource extractor v. manufacturing, etc.

The NEP was a spectacularly bad piece of policy (the attempt to have a 'made in Canada price for oil') which left an enduring bad taste in Alberta's mouths (and a lot of incorrect claims about how much it cost Alberta).

Thanks for a great thread guys (and gals?). This is exactly the sort of debate we need to be having in Canada and we can give it a push here. Through participation we can make TOD:C into a resource that can be used to inform both the public and the decision makers.

Yup - I agree.

Gasoline molecules from Canada and Mexico have higher value than molecules imported from other countries. They should be differentiated at the gas pump. Check out my Youtube video to see why:

Hidden Costs of Imported Oil - Need Country Choice At Pump