RED DEER, Alta. – Despite how some might feel about the truck convoy heading to Ottawa, a palpable sense of Canadian pride emanated from Red Deer this morning when around 160 trucks departed from Gort’s Truck Wash in support of Canada’s oil and gas sector.
I attended the convoy deployment today, with people braving frigid temperatures of around -36 Celsius with wind chill to have their message heard. The message is a simple one, as organizer Glen Carritt explained: with an abundance of oil and gas reserves in Alberta, why is the federal government not embracing domestic energy sources instead of foreign?
Carritt pointed out that Canada already has in place some of the most stringent safety and environmental policies for its oil and gas industry. He also said Canada has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. Despite this, Carritt says the Trudeau government looks to countries that do not impose the same standards for much of our energy needs to the tune of $50 million a day.
“We need our pipelines to get to tidewater and to the rest of Canada,” Carritt said, echoing this same message to the throngs of media outlets that attended the convoy departure.
Carritt said immediate action is required to bolster Alberta’s oil and gas sector, as the government has waffled on this issue for far too long.
There were not as many trucks taking part in the convoy as originally expected. As the effort was being put together, Carritt and fellow convoy organizer Jason Corbiel suggested there would be upwards of 400 trucks making the journey.
Those looking to participate can join the convoy as it makes its way east. Trucks, cars, pickups…it doesn’t’ matter, all are welcome.
After the convoy departed Gort’s and hit Hwy 2 south toward Calgary, I passed by the convoy right away in Red Deer, then again south of Innisfail. I stopped for a coffee and to let the convoy catch up. Most vehicles in the convoy are decaled with signs, flags, or other paraphernalia portraying pro-oil and gas messages.
“I love Alberta oil,” “I love Alberta’s oilfield,” “I love pipelines,” “Build the pipelines,” “Trudeau must go,” were some of the messages.
There were hats that said “Make Alberta great again;” there was even a dog wearing a sweater that said “I love Alberta oil and gas.”
Carritt reiterated that anyone can take part in the United We Roll! Convoy for Canada as long as they do so in a peaceful and respectful manner. “Whether you’re Yellow Vest, blue coveralls or hard hat,” he said, any hardworking, respectful Canadian is welcome in the rally.
Driving along with the convoy, several people came out to show support for the convoy. Between Red Deer and Airdrie, vehicles were parked at rest stops, side roads, on overpasses, exit ramps, and even just off to the side of the highway, with people waving, honking, holding Canadian flags, and taking pictures.
In Alberta, you would expect this kind of support for the oil and gas sector. I’m curious to find out what kind of reaction the convoy gets once it reaches Ontario.
Ironically, as I passed the convoy south of Innisfail, just north of Olds, I came upon a Tesla making its way toward Calgary. The driver was looking in his rearview mirror at the convoy coming up behind him. I found this contrast to be amusing.
I can only imagine Canada will have to up its energy production just to compensate for how much fuel will be used by the vehicles in the convoy. Red Deer to Ottawa in a transport truck would not be cheap.
Looking at the numbers
I’m always torn when I look at the numbers around carbon emissions from Canada and the oilsands.
The truck convoy is looking to ramp up production of our oil and gas sector and stop purchasing fuel from foreign countries. After all, Alberta does have the third largest oil reserve in the world.
People point to the oilsands’ carbon footprint, and for good reason. The Pembina Institute says production of oilsands crude brings with it 31% more emissions than the average North American crude.
But that has changed over the years. Since 1990, emissions from the oilsands have gone down 31%, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), due to new technologies. And that trend is expected to continue.
It’s also interesting to look at overall emissions numbers. The NRC says the oilsands make up 9.3% of Canada’s total emissions. With Canada responsible for 1.5% of global emissions, this means the oilsands equates to 0.1% of the world’s GHG emissions.
Electricity generation, buildings, and agriculture are all areas that produce more GHG emissions than the oilsands.
People who are opposed to the oilsands will not accept this argument, however. They would say we need to lead by example and make policy decisions that set the table for phasing out oil and gas in favor of more environmentally-friendly alternatives, like that Tesla I saw near the convoy.
I say “lead by example” because if we shut down the oilsands operation, it would make no impact on climate change whatsoever. And I think most people – even those who hate the “tarsands” – understand that. It’s an image thing for many people. How does Canada look if it continues to support the oilsands?
Like I point out in my March column, electric vehicles are likely our future, and that’s a good thing. But it is not our present. Like it or not, 99% of the vehicles on the road today run on gas or diesel, and that will take decades to phase out.
It therefore seems fairly simple. We are using oil and gas, but why are we importing it from other countries and not using our own?
We import oil from the U.S., Mexico, Norway, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq, Angola, and Saudi Arabia, among other countries. We spend $300 million a month on oil from Saudi Arabia.
Why? Do they process their crude emission free? I don’t think so.
Imagine if we put $300 million a month into Alberta crude what it would do for our economy.
We like to purchase our food locally by getting our fruits and vegetables from Canada whenever we can, and our beef from Alberta, among other products. Why then do we not want to get our energy locally?
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
@DerekClouthier All posts by Derek Clouthier