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Getson: Keystone has exposed our shortcomings as a nation—shortcomings that we can no longer afford

I know that at this point I technically am not a “Newly Elected Official”, but quite frankly, there are some days it sure feels like it. Receiving a request for my opinion on items from a few of the media outlets, sure does bring back those types of feelings, especially when considering how my opinions may affect others.

The recent request was regarding the significance of Keystone XL. For me, the outcome of this project goes further than what everyone else already knows statistically speaking, and what has been portrayed all too often in the papers. We have heard the job numbers, the egress to market, the rationale for why we as Albertans need to have this pipe built and running as soon as possible. Frankly, the same has been said for the TMX project.

The significance to me on Keystone XL, and TMX for that matter is the following: These two projects demonstrate that we as a country of distinct but collective provinces, are no longer aligned. The political flavors and whims of the day, are literally at odds with reality. There is a significant disconnect with what is important in the West versus what is important in the East.

We do not have a clear message or direction of where the country should be heading and moreover, this lack of direction has grown even worse when it comes to how other countries read or understand our foreign policy.

This makes investors and industry extremely hesitant to invest and build in a country that was a guaranteed return on investment only a few short years ago.

My opinion is that we better get our act together.

We better determine what we want to be when we grow up, as a nation. This requires a clear message as a starter to our largest trading partner, and the administrations that govern at both their Federal and State levels. Our message must be loud and clear

to the bankers in Europe, so that they know we have our act together, and assure them that they can have confidence when investing in our great nation.

We at, one time, as Canadians were on a trajectory to be a global energy superpower. We were poised to fill a significant need in the global LNG market, as well as bitumen supplied both of which are much needed in Asia.

We had, and still have high standards and regulations in place for public safety, environmental protection, stakeholder consultation, and both indigenous and greater public participation in major projects. We are sitting on the 3rd largest known oil reserves on the planet, and we rank no less than 3rd on any given day for the most ethically produced energy in the world, with world renowned human rights, comparatively low GHG emissions, extremely high environmental standards, and extraordinarily safe operations.

We have an abundance of natural resources that the rest of the world wants, and needs to help pull them out of their own environmental hardships and bring much needed energy to their people for a variety of everyday purposes. However, for some reason, there is a major disconnect on taking up that admirable cause in order to do what we can with what we have to help other nations, and be proud of doing so.

With the recent federal election in the US, I cannot help but wonder why our Prime Minister and our federal Minister of Natural Resources did not take it upon themselves to lobby extensively on the national significance of the Keystone XL pipeline.

It took our Premier to push for this support, when it appeared that the project was again going to be at risk. It makes me wonder further how much work our MP’s with their connections south of the border reached out again, in advance of that same formal call

of support made by our provincial government?

Outside of the political circles I have been advised that our friends south of the border are significantly unaware of how important this project is for us. I had also recently heard that the President Elect’s camp was quite frankly taken aback by our Prime Ministers support of the project, as up until recently he had either been silent on, or against such policy. To me, this “Layman’s” point of view speaks volumes to our shortfall as a nation.

The picture we are painting for the world is quite contrary to the realities of policy, and importance that the energy sector really is to our nation. The reality is, that we had better get our act together, because we have run out of second chances. Diving in at the 11th hour to try and do the right thing does not cut it, nor does it give time for our major trading partners be able to react to the “Change of Heart” antics we demonstrate when it comes to the energy sector at the federal level of Government.

Our actions on both Keystone XL and TMX have shown that we are becoming a nation of CAN’Tnadians, rather than how we have been seen as Canadians for generations. We were the group that was relied upon by our neighbors for years to make things happen.

We were the “Northmen”, the pioneer men and women, that carved out prosperity in the wilderness. We were the ones who always fought way above our weight class, and had respect as a stable place where you could invest and be rewarded.

The Keystone XL pipeline has exposed our shortcomings as a nation—shortcomings that we can no longer afford. We need to become energy self-sufficient as a nation, and work to regain the trajectory that we were previously on as a global energy super power. We must establish our transportation, trade, energy and utility corridors within our own Country, and solidify our main exports and imports with our largest trading partner. We cannot afford to neglect the North or the West any longer.

The North and the West have a key role to play in connecting the lower 48 states with the state of Alaska, which will require logistics planning, rail, communications, and energy as they transition into being a major defender of the arctic. Alberta, and Canada as a whole, have a vital role to play if we so choose.

The significance of Keystone XL is not so dissimilar to the canary in the coal mine. We must pay attention, and become the Canadians that we once were and aspire to be again. Dependable, reliable, solid, forward thinking, action orientated, principled, steadfast, and truly Strong and Free.

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