What the world really thinks about Canada’s energy industry

Canadians pondering our energy future might do well to take into account how others see us.

Canadians pondering our energy future might do well to take into account how others see us.

It would give them comfort to know the sector is actually in pretty good hands – at least in the opinion of folks able to view things from a neutral perspective.

For a relatively young country, we have an old (and honourable) energy history. But because we live with it daily, we’re perhaps not as acutely aware of how important that energy history is in a global context. Nor do we recognized that other jurisdictions see Canada as an international role model.

For many outside of Canada, the things Canadians take for granted about energy development are looked upon with envy.

Canadians would do well to see – as others do – our energy record as something worthy of pride rather than disdain or even despair.

Those who believe the mainstream media coverage might be tempted to believe that the Canadian energy record blots an otherwise sterling international reputation.

But talk to the men and women in charge of other countries’ energy dynamics and an entirely different view of Canada’s energy competencies emerges.

What’s the common link between Canada’s diverse capabilities?

The ethical approach we take to energy development that balances environmental dynamics and economic realities.

On a recent energy tour of Poland, Hungary and Croatia, discussions with diverse energy stakeholders provided interesting perspectives on what Canada has to offer in terms of technical, safety, regulatory, educational, political, experience and practice.

The tour was organized by Ottawa’s trade commissioner service to showcase Canadian investment opportunities and heighten trade opportunities.

Our domestic dynamic has evolved to make Canada attractive as a trade partner and supplier of expertise, perspective and social conscience.

Energy freedoms are also a major difference between our approach and theirs.

Take our system’s transparency as an example.

Many Canadians are largely ignorant of the transparency on which our energy systems are built.

Want to know what an energy company paid to lease Crown land? No problem. Interested in knowing who was issued a well licence yesterday. Again, no problem. Curious about a company’s hydrocarbon production volumes? Easy.

It’s all in the public domain – and it makes for an incredibly vibrant and competitive industry. Data availability to anyone with an interest is core to how many of our systems function, not just for the energy sector but for Canadian society as a whole.

That’s one dimension the Poles, Hungarians and Croatians deeply admire, because the system works for the citizens who actually own the molecules.

And that system of data transparency has been evolving and improving over the decades to create robust, competitive and accountable markets.

How we balance energy development and environmental sustainability are also of great interest, as are how we consult on major energy issues.

Canadians might be confused given perceived failures to consult about major pipeline projects. But central Europeans would give their eye teeth to have our processes.

The other area drawing attention is the way Canada is advancing its energy systems mix; the balanced approach that recognizes no single energy system can be wholly independent. Whether this is driven by regulation or the market, Canada’s approach is eyed with admiration.

Central Europeans are particularly interested in Canadian energy dynamics because they would like to be less dependent on a less-than-dependable source for the bulk of their domestic energy. The 12 countries of central Europe want to be less reliant on Russian natural gas, from pricing and security of supply perspectives. They’re making a variety of moves to become more energy self-sufficient, as well as wean themselves off coal over the long term.

For Canada, that means new market opportunities for our hydrocarbons, and our energy products and services.

Certainly Canada shouldn’t rest on its laurels simply because others admire our systems and approaches. Being an energy leader comes with the burden of running a race that has no finish line.

But it’s nice to know we’re well ahead of a large part of the pack.

It’s too bad more Canadians can’t see that.

Bill Whitelaw is president and CEO at JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read