Exporting Canadian oil has human rights and environmental benefits
This was written by one of my campaign volunteers, and it says what needs to be said. When Canada restricts its oil exports, it helps Saudi Arabia retain market share, earn billions, and maintain its gruesome human rights and environmental standards.
How Canada really can pressure Saudi Arabia to clean up its human rights (Hint: export our oil)
Shutting down Canadian oil does not reduce global oil consumption — it only increases the Saudis' market share
After barricading herself in a Thai hotel room and launching a Twitter campaign as loud as it was effective, Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed has admirably won the freedom she sought in Canada. Her plight is the latest in a series of dismal news reports from the Saudi kingdom, and was an obvious diplomatic win for Canada. But if this country really wants to help the millions of Rahaf Mohammeds, Yemeni children and imprisoned or murdered journalists and activists, what we should be doing is putting the corrupt Saudi government out of the oil business.
When crises like Rahaf Mohammed’s arise, a fleeting sense of national pride envelopes Canadians. We temporarily remember that Canada is a country that shines so brightly around the world — it is among the most sought out places to live despite a frozen climate even we complain about. Yet that sense of pride vanishes when we begin making policy that determines our success on the world stage.
If this country really wants to help the millions of Rahaf Mohammeds …what we should be doing is putting the corrupt Saudi government out of the oil business
Today, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter selling nearly three times Canada’s oil exports to the world. And the Saudi elite is wildly rich and indifferent to global norms of human decency as a result. Without competition for their share of global oil markets, that will continue. If we want to influence Saudi Arabia, we have one — and only one — lever to do so: erode its economic power.
By competing directly with Saudi Arabia for the world’s oil markets, depriving it of billions of dollars that fuel and export its values, Canada can shape the world for the better.
With the world’s third largest oil reserves — and the world’s best, most innovative energy sector workforce — Canada has the capacity to double or triple its oil exports, if given the domestic support to do so.
Yet Saudi Arabia is outselling us because Canadians won’t let Canadian oil compete.
As though following a playbook for developing the Saudi economy, the Canadian government has brutally hamstrung the Canadian oil industry. By vetoing widely supported pipelines west and east, implementing a West Coast ban on Canadian oil tankers, and setting unspecified “gender” standards on Canadian energy projects as Saudi Arabia’s gender-apartheid oil is held to no standards at all, Canada has sabotaged its energy sector.
In a single year, Saudi Arabia exports $96 billion in crude oil to the world. Over time, that adds up to a trillion-dollar prize that could be Canadian jobs, profits and tax revenues. Instead, it is Saudi Arabia’s.
What drives our baffling self-sabotage?
What drives our baffling self-sabotage?
Much of it stems from ambivalence about oil in general. In a world where headlines routinely blame the oil industry for carbon emissions, and ignore the life-saving benefits of oil, Canadians hesitate to embrace our energy industry.
But shutting down Canadian oil does not reduce global oil consumption — it only increases the Saudis’ market share. That is the worst thing we could do for the environment. What is the carbon footprint of years of Saudi wars destroying huge swaths of Syria and Yemen? Of tanks, fighter jets and bombs, and desperate refugees fleeing around the world? Sustaining the Saudi war machine comes with a human and environmental toll that dwarfs that of every other oil producer in the world.
Then there is Canadian modesty. There seems to be something in the Canadian character that too often hesitates to excel, to exude pride, to seek to win. There are glimmers of pride, as with the “Canada Kicks Ass” meme, but when push comes to shove, we meekly slip into the background rather than fight for our own interests. Rather than strive to lead the world with our energy excellence, we back off and let Saudi Arabia win.
This isn’t just a betrayal of Canadians — it is a betrayal of a world that wants more Canada, as we give them more Saudi Arabia.
It is time for this moral confusion to end. Canadians should not only be proud of who we are when we have a quarterly opportunity to help one deserving, high-profile refugee. We should be proud every day, and with every policy should seek not merely to compete internationally but to win.
If we seek to be the world leader in energy, we will force the hand of the Saudi Arabian government as nobody else in the world can. Only Canada combines the industry excellence and human rights record with enormous oil reserves that can usurp the Saudis’ dominance, while setting moral standards the world needs.
Canada should feel pride we helped one Rahaf Mohammed. By weakening Saudi power, we can help millions.
— Mike Bowerman is a business consultant and entrepreneur with international experience.