Canadians used to brag that putting a Canadian flag on their backpacks in Europe guaranteed a warm and friendly reception from locals across Europe. Canada enjoyed a cheerful innocence in contrast to the “ugly American” stereotypes that resonated around the world. We seemed left out of the grimy world of geopolitics – playing the “good guys”. We were the UN peacekeepers in blue berets, maintaining peace and security and protecting human rights around the globe for many years- setting an example of virtuous self-abnegation, self-denial and self-sacrifice for the greater good of the world. It is a stark reality for Canadians to contemplate the fact that because of our wealth of natural resources and lack of civil strife, we are now pawns in the great global chess game that includes economic warfare and political subversion. We are seeing signs of global forces causing disruption in Canada’s major industries, economy, social and political fabric that are too contrived to be mere coincidence – too slick and well-orchestrated to be a grassroots groundswell. And in this age of Information wars, Canadians are ill-prepared to defend ourselves against it.
As coronavirus infects world financial markets and threatens world recession, it is the virus of foreign socio/economic/political interference that Canadians must guard against. And it won’t be possible to self-quarantine ourselves out of harms’ way. Canadian prosperity is at risk. So why would Canada be at risk at all, being a northern country who generally doesn’t intrude too greatly into world politics and affairs unless it is to dole out aid? The global fight for resources and wealth is the reason and Canada’s relatively unprotected resources and wealth along with permissive legal penalties for foreign civil disturbance and a naive nostalgia for civil cooperation have crashed head on into global information wars intended to disrupt capitalist regimes. We always thought Canada was immune to foreign interference and noted in sympathy when the United States began uncovering Russian attempts to influence the 2016 US election. We shook our heads in further sympathy as reports surfaced earlier this year that interference attempts are continuing and that the Russian propaganda machine is alive and well and thriving in 2020.
All the while, we assumed Canada has some sort of immunity to disruption. Perhaps we thought the NATO alliance would somehow insulate us. Perhaps we thought we had nothing worth coveting? How naive of us to think that while we possess 171.0 billion barrels of oil wealth, (3rd largest reserves in the world of which 166.3 billion barrels are in Alberta’s oil sands ) along with robust trade connections, and access to short global trade routes, a thriving economy, a highly educated population and lack of internal strife that we were somehow insulated from disruption.
It seems interesting that our Canadian desire to perennially please the UN and other global interests is being leveraged to disrupt our reliable and affordable energy supply- the cornerstone of our economic health. We’ve witnessed the UN Committee to stop racial discrimination call for a stop to major Canadian oil and Gas Infrastructure projects -Site C, Trans Mountain and LNG pipeline and then admit it hadn’t even investigated the claims that First Nations weren’t consulted. In fact, Canada is one of the only countries in the world that recognizes Indigenous rights in its constitution. It is also interesting that our enduring love of nature and the environment is being leveraged to demonize our domestic energy industry. Our propensity for humility and collective guilt is constantly being tapped. It is even more fascinating that our concern for equality and acceptance of our First Nations and our efforts for inclusion are being denigrated and dismissed by extremists with masked faces who are blockading our supply chain- denying fuel, food, much needed medicines to Canadians across the country. The cries of “reconciliation is dead” are a bit too shrill and overstated as extremists set fires and burn the railway ties – destabilizing the railways our essential supplies must run on.
The recent revelation of a bumper sticker depicting the assault of activist Greta Thunberg, attributed to an Oil and gas services company is particularly troubling. What odd timing that such a bizarre image being attributed to Canadian Energy industry company , posted by a third party has been distributed so widely. It is a grotesque mischaracterization of those who work in the oil and gas Industry to other Canadians. It has surfaced at a time when foreign extremists are active in large numbers in Canada- participating in illegal blockades of our infrastructure with extreme behavior, attempting to block yet another major Canadian Energy project that would create huge wealth for Canada but most certainly take business away from our global competitors. It’s important to acknowledge here that the global Oil and Gas industry (unbeknownst to Canadians not directly involved in the Industry ) is unbelievably competitive. Russia is among the fiercest competitors along with China, Saudi Arabia and the US who rank among the top 5 oil producing nations along with Canada. Coincidentally, Russia announced on Feb 15th their plans for a $300 billion oil and gas development in the Russian Arctic.
Yes, just as Canada delayed, stalled and discouraged the $20 billion Teck Resources Frontier project so thoroughly that they withdrew their application, in order to save the world from four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year– Russia announced the Vostok Oil Project, a $300 billion project which will certainly produce more GHG emissions than Teck Frontier. One wonders that if a regime as powerful as Russia will meddle in US domestic affairs, wouldn’t they also meddle in Canadian domestic affairs to get an advantage by suppressing the Canadian Energy industry? Certainly, we have seen the detailed tax reports as publicized by Vivian Krause, proving US Energy interests are not above funneling cash to environmental extremists to “land-lock” the Canadian oilsands. Russia’s expertise is certainly more closely aligned with a disinformation campaign approach.
Ironically, Canada’s self-denial has enabled an even greater assault on the environment from a regime that has little concern or regulation for producing oil and gas with any hint of environmental accountability. There is an added layer of environmental risk when you consider where will the Vostok oil and gas will be transported. There is increasing interest in shipping through the ice-free Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic which could cut shipping routes between Europe and Asia by 5,000 to 6,000 kilometres.
Let’s consider it is time for Canadians to take a step back and realize we are not immune to foreign funded hijacking of our social, economic and political stability. Time to recognize information wars and intentions to destabilize for what they are. Let’s take back our economy and our stability and disregard shrill extremists who seek to be the loudest voices in the room.
Maureen McCall is an energy professional who writes on issues affecting the Energy Industry. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Petroleum Joint Venture Association