|Danielle Smith: Visionary|
Our ability to export large quantities of energy is under threat from those who are targeting our oil and gas resources in order to promote their agenda of greenhouse gas reduction worldwide. There is little we can do to persuade people of that mindset to allow us to export our oil and gas.
The Closing of the Windows of Opportunity:
Exports of energy are also threatened by our lack of realization that the large windows of opportunity to land export deals with major consumers in other countries, can slam shut, denying us those outlets for further wealth creation and jobs in Canada.
This threat to the window of opportunity is well expressed by Brian Lee Crowley:
... Canada is living through a time when the perishable nature of opportunity was never more obvious. Canada's natural resource bounty holds great promise for wealth and job creation, but the opportunities for specific projects are extremely dependent on rapidly shifting circumstances ...It is opportunity's evanescence that we Canadians too often ignore at our peril, thinking that we have world enough and time to hear every voice, weigh every objection and consider every alternative to pipelines, port construction and mine developments. Surely the rest of the world will wait while we nice, polite, considerate Canadians wring our hands and dither. Alas not.Far be it from me to suggest that we shouldn't develop our resources in a responsible and informed way. We should set the highest standards. We just cannot dawdle while we are about it, especially considering that it isn't only the approval process that takes time, but also the commissioning and construction, where delays and cost overruns are de rigueur and Canada's reputation is not strong.
Visionary Proposal of Danielle Smith:
Now, from Alberta, we have a game-changing proposal from Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party. Smith has cut to the heart of the matter, and is proposing a plan that is daring, visionary, nation-building, and doable.
This is what Smith would have us do:
Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, is calling for the establishment of an energy corridor across northwestern Canada to make it easier for industry to get oil, liquefied natural gas and hydroelectricity to market...
Ms. Smith called for a one-kilometre-wide right-of-way “essentially cutting through northwest Canada from Northern Ontario and Manitoba to the West Coast.”
She said an established energy corridor would mean quicker processing for projects, because conflicts with First Nations, municipal governments and questions over environmental impact could be worked out in advance, so that each new project wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
Smith’s proposal is worthy of serious consideration by all levels of government. It certainly deserves more than BC Premier Christy Clark’s rather cavalier response that her Five Conditions must be met.
One of the most important considerations is that the stakeholders in the areas affected by the National Energy Corridor proposed by Smith are consulted, involved and rewarded.
Back to Crowley’s article for an example of one way this is being done right now:
Today, Aboriginal people themselves are trying to revive the MVP. Whether the economics will justify such a project any time in the near future (and the shale gas revolution seems to make it unlikely, another changing circumstance) is less important than what the project reveals about the evolution of Aboriginal attitudes.
As Fred Carmichael, chairman of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group (APG), says, "This time, northern Aboriginal people are at the planning table. In a sense, we are now wearing two hats. One hat we wear identifies our traditional role as guardians and stewards of the land. The other hat represents our emerging role as business opportunity developers."
APG is a business created and owned by Aboriginal groups in the Northwest Territories, and has secured a right to own one-third of the proposed pipeline.
It is absolutely imperative to the success of the Smith National Energy Corridor that stakeholders be involved.
First Nations Stake in the new National Energy Corridor:
One way to make sure that the First Nations are involved and participate in the development and use of the National Energy Corridor, is to pick up the concept that the Aboriginal Pipeline Group is using: provide for equity interests by First Nations in all projects that produce energy and transport energy through the National Energy Corridor.
Such equity interests could take the form of the automatic reservation of equity stakes in all projects that extract, refine, transport through pipelines, and ship oil or gas through the National Energy Corridor, to be awarded to all First Nations with stakes in the lands the corridor crosses, at a discounted price (that is, next to nothing).
I suggest an automatic reservation of at least 20% of all equity in all such projects, for the nominal sum of one dollar. This will help ease the way for acceptance of the concept of a new National Energy Corridor.
Choices open to Industry:
Project developers need not give up their equity this way; they can decide to proceed in the normal way to obtain approvals and consents without using the new National Energy Corridor.
It is time for our political and economic leaders to sit down and talk seriously about Danielle Smith’s National Energy Corridor.
The provincial governments and the federal government should work together to study the proposal, and should immediately offer substantial seed money to pay the expenses of an exhaustive study of the proposal (including the costs to the First Nations of retaining proper consulting services to allow them to review the project).