Let’s make 2018 the year Canada competes

For two weeks in February, every four years, Canadians get to show the rest of the world what we’re made of.

On the slopes, on the track, and on the ice, Canada’s best athletes shine on the world’s biggest stage, the Winter Olympics. It has now become somewhat expected for Canada to feature prominently on the medal podium at the winter games.

Canada finished atop the podium in Vancouver in 2010 with 14 gold medals, the most of any country ever at the Winter Olympics. We followed that up with a second place showing in 2014 in Sochi, claiming 10 golds and 25 medals in total. I know I’m not alone in rooting for Canada to post even better numbers this year in South Korea, when the Winter Olympics get underway on Feb. 9.

But as brilliant as Canada has been in winter athletic competition over the last decade or more, our performance when it comes to economic competition, particularly in the energy sector, has been another story entirely.

We spent much of 2017 losing ground to our competitors and we head into 2018 well behind the pace.

Let’s start on our side of the border. We lost arguably the most important pipeline project on the books in 2017 when TransCanada pulled the plug on the Energy East pipeline, citing costly and chronic regulatory delays for the decision. This certainly should have been a wake-up call for Canada’s competitive position – hard proof that overregulation was costing us real investment.

We also saw several major LNG projects representing tens of billions of investment dollars evaporate and even the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline faces some opposition despite approval after approval. It all sends the message, both domestically and internationally, that Canada is not a safe bet.

Federally, provincially and municipally we’ve seen the regulatory burden grow for Canada’s energy industry. For an industry still recovering from the oil price crash of 2015, these extra regulatory and tax burdens are driving investment capital away. Since 2014, well over a dozen multinational energy companies have sold off Canadian assets to escape them.

And Canada’s Energy industry is able to compete with a more focused and simple regulatory framework.

In July of 2017, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers released a competitiveness report which showed that if the Alberta government and the energy industry worked together they could create more than 24,000 new jobs for Albertans and grow the province’s economy by nearly $5 billion. These are real solutions we can work on in 2018 that will make our communities and our country even stronger.

So as we head into 2018, with visions of Olympic gold medals in hockey and skiing and figure skating permeating our minds, let’s also get serious about competing for our economy and our standard of living. Forget two weeks every four years. Let’s compete hard every day and reap the rewards of victory.

By Canada’s Energy Citizens