The180·the 180

Let's talk about pipelines like grown-ups, says industry watcher

This week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promised to keep her "gun in the holster" while Quebec and Saskatchewan weighed in on either side of the pipeline debate. Industry watcher Max Fawcett says it's time for all parties to sit down and discuss the issues like adults.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley wears a cowboy hat at the Calgary Stampede in 2015. She promised to keep her "gun in the holster" after Quebec announced a move against the Energy East pipeline this week. (CP/Jeff McIntosh)

Energy industry observer Max Fawcett says it's time for a grown-up conversation about energy and the environment in Canada.

He believes that will require a little less public sniping from premiers and a little more behind-the-scenes negotiation.

"I understand how politically advantageous it is for a premier of Saskatchewan and a premier of Alberta to be pro-pipelines, and I understand how advantageous it is for a premier of Quebec to be anti-pipelines," says Fawcett, who is the editor of Vancouver Magazine and the former editor of Alberta Oil Magazine.

"But the federal government's job, ultimately, is to corral provincial interests and direct them towards a national purpose. And that's what's missing here." 

Fawcett argues participants in the pipeline debate get backed into all-or-nothing positions, which he sees as impractical. 

"I'm not a fan of supply-side economics, which was all the rage in the 80s with Reaganomics and the idea that if you just cut taxes and get rid of government regulation, the economy will grow. By the same token, I'm not a fan of [supply-side environmentalism] — the idea that if you just block up pipelines and prevent them from getting built, oil sands production and other assets won't get developed. Oil is produced because there's a demand for it, and if it's not produced in Canada, it's going to get produced somewhere else," he says. 

Click the button above to listen to the interview. 

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