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MORGAN: If the Government Won’t Protect Pipeline Construction, Citizens Will

Illegal blockages on the Trans Mountain line will be cleared whether by the state, or through citizen action. The choice is up to the authorities. Doing nothing is not an option.

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The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is the last major energy project standing in Western Canada.

The Northern Gateway, Energy East, and Mackenzie gas pipelines all succumbed to an unreasonable regulatory environment where the goalposts are constantly moved by an ideologically driven federal government.

Among L.N.G. projects, Pacific Northwest, Aurora, Prince Rupert and WCC have all been canceled. Only the half-built Kitimat L.N.G. remains standing, and it is under serious threat as Chevron has divested their investment in it, and the possibility of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline being completed in order to feed the project is in serious question due to years of illegal blockades hindering construction.

The Frontier oilsands mine project has now been shelved as Teck Resources has withdrawn its application after nearly a decade of fruitless efforts to get government approvals.

In total, we have seen nearly $150 billion in energy projects shelved in Canada in the last decade. Only the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion remains, and only because the federal government stepped in and bought the project while Kinder Morgan retreated from Canada’s unreasonable regulatory environment.

Both the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project and the Frontier oilsands mine followed all the rules. They danced to the government’s tune. Years passed by while billions were spent. Studies were done, licenses were gained, consultations were held and deals were made with every First Nation which could possibly be impacted by the project. Their efforts were for naught. The mythical “social license” never was gained and mob rule calls the shots in Canada. It is little wonder that Teck bailed out and it will only be a matter of time before the Coastal Gaslink project is permanently halted if we don’t see some definitive government action soon.

Since it is clear that playing by the rules is futile, and mob rule is the only way to get things done in Canada, it is time that we stopped playing by the rules.

Jason Kenney said it best when he described the national eruption of civil disobedience over the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline as a “dress rehearsal” for what will come once the Trans Mountain pipeline begins real construction in B.C.

Activists have been threatening to “warrior up” in order to stop T.M.X. and it is clear that they are not bluffing. The weather will be nicer and students will be off for the summer holidays soon. What better job for a student than to sit in an encampment for the summer in order to block pipeline construction, while being paid a few bucks through the Tides Foundation? Ideologues, left-anarchists and eco-extremists from all over North America will be converging on British Columbia in order to shut down this last major energy project.

Playing by the rules means waiting for the government to negotiate, fail and then attempt to enforce the law on people illegally hindering the pipeline project. That will mean that nothing will get done and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will lose yet another construction season. Governments have proven themselves too callow to deal with illegal blockades where the protesters number in the dozens. There is no way they will find the strength of will to take on hundreds or possibly thousands of illegal blockaders.

If the only way to get things done is through mob rule, then it is incumbent on energy proponents to build a bigger mob. If the state will not enforce the law when illegal actions hinder T.M.X. construction, then citizens must step up and enforce the law. The silent majority can no longer afford to let the state capitulate to the radical minority.

It is clear that the state will only act against criminal protesters when they are absolutely forced to. When it came to rail blockades which lasted weeks, it was only when it became clear that Quebec was going to run out of propane before authorities finally began to act. Blockades on the T.M.X. will not hinder Quebec, so it will take something more in order to prompt an unwilling government to enforce the law. I can’t think of a better way to encourage state action on this than for there to be a large and organized contingent of people heading out to B.C. in order to ensure that the pipeline construction remains unhindered by illegal activists.

There are tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed Westerners who will not be taking kindly to seeing the last hope for their industry being killed due to government inaction in light of illegal construction blockages. It won’t take too much to encourage many of them to take a weekend road trip this summer in order to express their feelings towards the activists who are blocking their ability to make a living.

Groups are already forming and coalescing in preparation for summer actions. We watched as a small group of people in Edmonton managed to take down an illegal rail blockade within hours, while the rest of Canada remained somehow paralyzed in fear of these small groups of activists. Every new blockade is being met with growing numbers of counterprotesters and it is prompting the state to clear the blockades. People are no longer content to wait for the government to solve this issue any longer.

Whenever we play by the rules, we lose; so we have nothing to lose when we toss out the rulebook.

The Trans Mountain pipeline is where the line will be drawn in the sand. Westerners are not going to stand by and let a complacent state let a minority of activists kill this final, critical project. To let this project die would be to admit that we have given up on our energy industry and are content to let foreign powers supply Canada’s energy needs. That is simply unacceptable and the West won’t let this happen without a fight.

Illegal blockages on the Trans Mountain line will be cleared whether by the state, or through citizen action. The choice is up to the authorities. Doing nothing is not an option.

I see a number of trips to BC in my future.

Cory Morgan is a Columnist for the Western Standard

Opinion

BRADLEY: No Central Bank Digital Currency can stack up to Bitcoin

Why Bitcoin will always be the superior digital currency.

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These days, many countries are considering introducing their own Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

The Bank of England recently released a research paper discussing the possibility of creating its own digital currency, saying it has “not yet made a decision on whether to introduce CBDC”.

In July 2021, the Bank of Canada issued a discussion paper called “The Positive Case for a CBDC”, citing it “could be an effective competition policy tool for payments” and “could also support the vibrancy of the digital economy.”

But no country is moving faster on this front than China.

The Central Bank of China has already introduced a digital yuan, which is expected to eliminate physical cash and provide a centralized payment-processing network.

As China continues to expand its CBDC implementation beyond its trial run in some cities, more of its citizens will be forced into using the government’s app to identify themselves, store their wealth and make everyday purchases. That means the Chinese government will be able to track purchases and even freeze or close personal accounts, for whatever reason they see fit.

That is a terrifying prospect – and it highlights one of the many reasons bitcoin will always be superior to any currency issued and controlled by any government.

The Bitcoin network uses blockchain technology to track the status of the network, including user balances and transactions. This allows transparency and decentralization by nature. Perhaps most importantly, this means that the system cannot be controlled or influenced by any one person, company or government.

China’s digital yuan – and any CBDC under consideration – have the complete opposite fundamentals. With a CBDC, one central bank has ultimate control and power over the currency, not to mention the ability to track and even reverse everyday purchases.

It’s a particularly worrisome situation in China, where its government has been pushing a social credit system that, at its core, rewards or punishes people for their economic and personal behaviours. As the country implements its digital yuan more broadly, there are fears China could use its CBDC to extend control over even more of its citizens’ rights and freedoms.

We don’t face that threat in western countries yet, but that’s not to say we are immune from the possibility. If Meta’s recent announcement that it’s shutting down the face recognition system on Facebook is any indication, our society is definitely not keen on being monitored, controlled, or surveilled in any way.

From 2013 to 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ran Operation Choke Point to monitor and crack down on payments for what the government deemed “high-risk activities”, ranging from online gambling and payday loans to pornography and surveillance equipment sales. These activities were not illegal but they offended the government’s moral compass – a slippery and scary slope.

Most recently, in October 2021 U.S. President Joe Biden and his government backed down from requiring the IRS to collect data on every bank account with more than $600 in annual transactions. 

Infringements like these on our privacy are unacceptable. But the likelihood of them happening will grow exponentially if, and when, western governments introduce their own CBDCs.

Aside from a potential loss of personal freedom and privacy, CBDCs would introduce another undesirable outcome: even greater inflation than we’re experiencing today. Governments, including our own here in Canada, are printing money faster than ever, which simultaneously drives inflation and devalues personal wealth.

As Saifedean Ammous writes in his fantastic book, The Fiat Standard: The Debt Slavery Alternative to Human Civilization, “CBDCs would allow for the implementation of…inflationist schemes with high efficiency, allowing for increased central planning of market activity. Government spending would proceed unabated by whatever little discipline credit markets currently exert. Real-world prices are likely to rise, which would lead to more control over economic production to mandate prices.”

To sum this up, CBDCs could lead to higher inflation, less personal autonomy, and more government meddling. For those reasons, whenever I’m asked if the introduction of CBDCs will kill bitcoin and its relevance, my answer is a resounding, “No.”

Central bank digital currencies are not the same thing as bitcoin. They aren’t even competitors with bitcoin, nor will they ever replace bitcoin. They are a distraction. In my opinion, CBDCs will only create greater demand for bitcoin and its many advantages.

Bitcoin offers individuals the profound ability to own sound money, protect their wealth from inflation and keep governments from micro-managing their finances. That is certainly not what CBDCs will do, and it’s why we should all be very apprehensive about giving central banks the ability to issue, oversee and control digital currencies.

No CBDC can, or ever will, stack up to bitcoin.

Guest Column from Dave Bradley, Chief Revenue Officer at Bitcoin Well
@bitcoinbrains on Twitter

Sponsored by Bitcoin Well

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Opinion

ROYER: Canada ignores Alberta. Because it can

The only conclusion is that Canada is not a functioning, modern federal democracy. It caters almost exclusively to the needs of the two primary provinces.

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Crickets. That is the sound of Canada’s response to Alberta’s request to consider revisions to the equalization program over a month ago. What does the deafening silence say about Canada?

Trudeau brushed off the referendum saying that he couldn’t unilaterally address the issue, although he clearly can. His government has several bilateral agreements with provinces other than Alberta.  He can agree to change the equalization formula to drain less wealth from Alberta and Saskatchewan in the first place.

The federal Conservative Party’s silence is due to their leader Erin O’Toole’s decision to pander to Ontario and Quebec, taking the West for granted.

The silence has made one thing absolutely clear: Alberta has no voice in Canada. Voting against the Liberals hasn’t worked. Voting in a couple of Liberal MPs hasn’t helped. Relying on protection provincial sovereignty under the constitution has proven to be useless; Trudeau’s government intercedes into those defined powers with impunity.

All that remains is to look at the big picture. Alberta had no democratic input into decisions that dramatically diminished its economy. Wealth continues to be drained from the province and it has no means to stop it. A referendum — the ultimate expression of democratic rights — is ignored. What does this make Canada?

First, it clearly is not a modern democratic nation. Modern democracies give voice to minorities and seek compromise.

We do not have a federal government. There is no structural input from the far reaches of the country in the nation’s decision-making process. It is a central government, serving only the centre.

We are not really a federation either. Rights of the lesser provinces are extinguished at the whim of the central government. Those intrusions are dutifully upheld by the Supreme Court, an institution with a majority of judges from central Canada. The Senate is completely ineffective in protecting the federation. It over-represents Quebec and Atlantic Canada, is appointed at the sole discretion of the prime minister and has very limited powers to disagree with him. Alberta’s attempt to introduce democracy into the selection of Senators has been ignored by the prime minister.

Power is extremely concentrated. Trudeau’s emissions cap on hydrocarbon production is just the most recent example. No discussion with Parliament or the provinces was taken; he just made the decision with his personal staff, and announced it

He has this power because hyper-partisanship, strict party discipline and the overly centralized government concentrates power. We’ve abandoned our historic Westminster Parliamentary system of government and taken on an American style constitutional system with judicial supremacy, but with an all-powerful prime minister that lacks the checks-and-balances placed upon an American president.

The only respectful response to Alberta came from Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe. He called for his province to become a nation within a nation, a status effectively granted Quebec. Neither the federal structure nor the national parliament protect the outlying provinces. They now need to gain near national powers in order to protect themselves from the central government.

The only conclusion is Canada is not a functioning, modern federal democracy. It caters almost exclusively to the needs of the two primary provinces: Ontario and Quebec. The concentration of power and the malleability of federal sovereignties has makes the prime minister effectively an elected dictator. The only check on the prime minister’s power is in an occasional national election, the results of which are determined almost entirely in Ontario and Quebec.

So, what is Canada? It is a country in which the central provinces in conjunction with the central government have dominion over the outlying provinces, and those central provinces elect a prime minister who is given near royal prerogative.

Our country is called (at least officially) the Dominion of Canada, a constitutional monarchy. By the word dominion are we saying that the centre has dominion over the rest of the country? And does constitutional democracy say that the constitution concentrates power into the hands of a single person?

We can do better.

Randy Royer is a Western Standard columnist

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Energy

VENKATACHALAM & KAPLAN: Oil and gas production is essential to BC’s economy

Here’s another slice of statistical bread to consider: In 2017 the BC oil and gas industry purchased $5.6 billion worth of goods and services from other sectors.

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Guest column by Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan of the Canadian Energy Centre

British Columbia has been producing oil and natural gas since 1952. In fact, as of 2018, BC produced 32% of Canada’s natural gas production and 2% of Canada’s conventional daily oil production. British Columbia collects royalties from oil and gas development, supporting the economic prosperity in the province.

Want to know how important the oil and natural gas industry is to the BC economy? Using customized Statistic Canada data from 2017 (the latest year available for this comparison), it turns out oil and gas in BC  generated about $18 billion in outputs, consisting primarily of the value of goods and services produced, as well as a GDP of $9.5 billion.

As for what most of us can relate to — jobs — the BC oil and gas industry was responsible for nearly 26,500 direct jobs and more than 36,100 indirect jobs (62,602 jobs in total) in 2017. Also relevant: The oil and gas sector paid out over $3.1 billion in wages and salaries to BC workers that year.

Here’s another slice of statistical bread to consider: In 2017 the BC oil and gas industry purchased $5.6 billion worth of goods and services from other sectors. That included $600 million from the finance and insurance sector, $770 million in professional services, and $2.8 billion from the manufacturing sector, to name just three examples.

Spending by the oil and gas sector in BC is not the only way to consider the impact of the industry. Given that a large chunk of the oil and gas sector is next door in Alberta, let’s look at what Alberta’s trade relationship with its westerly neighbour does for BC.

BC’s interprovincial trade in total with all provinces in 2017 amounted to $39.4 billion. Alberta was responsible for the largest amount at $15.4 billion, or about 38%, of that trade.

That share of BC’s trade exports is remarkable, given that Alberta’s share of Canada’s population was just 11.5 percent in 2017. Alberta consumers, businesses and governments buy far more from BC in goods and services than its population as a share of Canada would suggest would be the case. Alberta’s capital-intensive, high-wage-paying oil and gas sector is a major reason why.

If Alberta were a country, the province’s $15.4 billion in trade with BC would come in behind only the United States (about $22.3 billion in purchases of goods and services from BC) in 2017. In fact, Alberta’s importance to B.C. exports was ranked far ahead of China ($6.9 billion), Japan ($4.5 billion), and South Korea ($2.9 billion)—the next biggest destinations for BC’s trade exports.

BC has a natural advantage for market access in some respects when compared to the United States. For instance, BC’s coast is near to many Asian-Pacific markets than are U.S. Gulf Coast facilities. The distance between the U.S. Gulf Coast and to the Japanese ports of Himeji and Sodegaura is more than 9,000 nautical miles, compared to less than 4,200 nautical miles between those two Japanese ports and the coast of BC.

The recent demand for natural gas in Asia, especially Japan (the largest importer of LNG) and price increase for natural gas, presents an exciting opportunity for BC oil and gas industry. The IEA predicts that by 2024 , natural gas demand forecast in Asia will be up 7% from 2019’s pre-COVID-19  levels. 

Be it in employment, salaries and wages paid, GDP, or the purchase of goods and services, the impact of oil and natural gas (and Alberta) on BC’s economy and trade flows is significant.

Guest column by Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan are with the Canadian Energy Centre

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