Energy policy not just an Alberta issue
Imagine saving $228 in federal income taxes each year. What's the catch? You just have to support Canadian jobs and Canada's economy.
To understand this opportunity, consider what Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said recently at a Manning Centre conference discussion on energy policy. Prentice noted that if new pipelines were built, Alberta oil companies could earn more profits and pay an extra $2 billion in federal corporate income taxes each year.
If we take Prentice's $2 billion estimate and divide it by Canada's population, the extra revenue could allow the federal government to reduce taxes for a family of four by about $228 per year. Alternatively, the government could use the money to pay for health care or pay down the national debt. Clearly, all of Canada could benefit.
At the same time, higher production by oil companies in Alberta would lead to higher earnings for employees. They in turn would buy more products.
That could result in a window-making company in Manitoba selling more windows as new homes go up in Calgary. Or perhaps an automotive plant in Ontario might have to make more vehicles and ship them to Fort McMurray. Other benefits would be seen throughout Canada.
However, not everyone agrees with Canada moving forward on energy development. Some environmental extremists would rather see the oil sands shut down. They take a very narrow, extremist view that isnâ€™t grounded in reality.
Regardless of where you land on the "climate change debate," the reality is millions of Canadians will still wake up tomorrow and fill up their cars with gasoline.
Millions of Canadians will also continue to purchase cellphones, crayons for their kids and lipstick. Yes, each of those products (and thousands more), are made, at least in part, with oil.
It should be obvious to both sides of the climate change debate that, in the short- term, we should all be supporting Canadian jobs and Canada's economy. The long- term direction is a different debate.
To be sure, extreme environmentalists should feel free to raise their concerns about oil and gas developments. However, as long as environmental extremists use cellphones to organize their rallies and drive gas-powered vehicles to get there, they're being disingenuous when they ignore the benefits of developing oil and gas deposits in Canada.
Many people don't realise it, but if the oil sands, and other oil projects in our country were shut down tomorrow, over 180,000 Canadians in the oil and gas industry would lose their jobs. Another 600,000 indirect and supporting jobs would be impacted as well.
The Canadian dollar would sink, driving up the price of groceries, clothing and other imported products. We would also see significant tax increases nation-wide. Many aboriginal communities would also be impacted as oil developments have created significant wealth and job opportunities.
Despite the negative impacts from clamping down on our oil and gas sector, Canadians would still fill up their cars with gasoline and buy oil-based products; the materials would just come from outside Canada.
One thing is for certain; our nation should be looking forward on energy policy not backward. The benefits, coast-to-coast, are significant.
Colin Craig works for the Manning Centre in Calgary
This article ran in the April 1, 2015 edition of the Winnipeg Sun