Ukraine war means long-term opportunity for Canada if domestic politics shift, former minister says.
Canada could displace Russian supplies of energy, strategic minerals and food but needs government backing for new investments such as pipelines, former revenue minister and national chamber of commerce chief Perrin Beatty told MNI.
Political pressure has bottled up Canada's energy exports in recent years, something that may shift as Russia's aggression creates a lasting need for energy from more democratic and reliable sources, Beatty said. The government's budget released late Thursday suggests more willingness but a bigger change of heart is needed, he said.
“For a long time, you had a lobby that wanted to landlock Canadian energy,” said Beatty, also a former secretary of state, especially on pipelines. "We need to get serious now about putting the capacity in place.”
Canada has a wider role to play beyond energy, including the capacity to boost shipments of potash, food and critical minerals, Beatty said. The stakes are high with European officials appealing for help and noting that money Europe spends each day on Russian oil and gas dominates the international aid being sent to Ukraine, he noted.
“Canadian oil and gas is produced to a higher standard and in a democracy” he said. “But we need to have a commitment to strategically and responsibly bring our resources to market, and put infrastructure in place that will enable us to do it. It can’t be done overnight.”
The government recently said Canada can boost production of oil and gas by about 300,000 barrels a day in the short term, and earlier this week approved a drilling project off the country's east coast. Ministers have also signaled increased future energy production must conform to the country's climate goals including going carbon neutral.