Here's a paper everyone should read, authored by one of Canada's most accomplished and informed investors, who shared a career's worth of knowledge recently with senators examining two pieces of legislation that many argue will have a deep impact on the country's future.
Mac Van Wielingen (pictured) is the founder of ARC Financial Corp., the largest energy-focused private equity investment management company in Canada. He also started ARC Resources, an energy company active in British Columbia's Montney shale gas region which has reduced the GHG emission intensity by 43 per cent since 2007 and is targeting to a further 25 per cent reduction by 2021.
He recently provided a research paper to two Senate of Canada standing committees. It is a remarkable work, reflecting decades of experience as well as up-to-date findings on a vast range of energy and economic issues. Mac's paper is well worth bookmarking as a reference guide, argument settler, and source of calm and reasoned perspective. It's also a manifesto of what Canada could be if it pursues sound, contextualized strategies for developing its economy while protecting the environment.
There is considerable evidence that current energy policy understandings and perceptions are reflecting a dysfunctional level of extremism and rigidity. The clearest, most obvious “in-our-face” evidence is the two legislative initiatives currently within debate: Bill C-48 and Bill C-69. Bill C-48 is extreme in its apparent intent to shut down much needed new market access for Canadian crude oil. It is as if we are trying to drive the risk of environmental impact to zero and have lost perspective of the need to balance environmental and economic outcomes including regional economic development and related benefits. We have also lost perspective of the reality that the oil and gas sector will continue to play a critically important part in satisfying the total long-term energy needs of the world.
Further, we’ve lost perspective on Canada’s positive influence globally, in exporting our high ESG products and standards into other markets. There is also a level of extremism reflected in Bill C-69 with the tilt towards increasing the politicization of project approval decision-making versus independent arm’s length, science-based regulatory process. Canada’s great historical achievements in independent, regulatory decision-making are being sacrificed in the name of more political decision-making. This is a huge strategic decision for Canada that may be deeply regretted.
Broadly, there is a “rigidity of perspective” apparent in both these policies where a single view dominates, and a balance of considerations has been lost. As perspectives and related policies become increasingly narrow, the natural consequence is increased conflict and polarization. It is as if the dominance of a single perspective, specifically our concern for climate change, is more important than the unity of our country. The great irony is that our level of emissions and potential impact on global climate change is immaterial. It is hard to accept this, but it is reality. This is the central point of my submission.
As a country we have lost our perspective; our understanding of context. We are tearing the country apart for no material gain in solving the global problem of GHG emissions and climate change. Canada is important, but not in the way that our current policies seem to indicate. Instead of shutting ourselves down, we need to bring more of ourselves into markets. We need to keep driving for reduced environmental impacts, new high-efficiency technologies, and even higher ESG standards, in order to model our commitment to continuously advance our ESG performance. This is the win-win strategy for Canada and the planet.
The document is also stored at the Senate of Canada via this link.