EDITORIAL: Why does oil-rich Canada buy oil from Saudi Arabia?

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Last week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her government’s purchase of rail cars to ship her province’s oil to buyers.

It was unique to watch an NDP premier advocate for one of the more dangerous methods of transporting oil.

But if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government are going to stand by and allow four pipelines fall apart during their watch, then perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures.

Meanwhile, Canadians continue to unknowingly pump millions of dollars to Saudi Arabia every day.

The most recent objection to Saudi oil imports comes from conservative digital advocacy group Ontario Proud, which has launched a new campaign called #StopSaudiOil.

“Every day, Canada spends $10 million on oil from Saudi Arabia,” says Jeff Ballingal, founder of Ontario Proud, in a press release. “In the past 10 years that equates to $20 billion spent on Saudi crude. Without the necessary infrastructure, Canada is reliant on foreign oil, including Saudi Arabia.”


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Canada could easily replace the Saudi oil with its own (and the Saudis would simply ship more of their oil to China), but Canada’s trade relationship with the Saudis has grown increasingly problematic.

To be sure, we ship some $15 billion in weapons – light armoured vehicles (LAVs) – to the Saudis. And yes, there are geopolitical considerations; Saudi Arabia is more stable than many of their neighbours in the Middle East.

But how does it make sense to import foreign oil, using dirty polluting tanker ships to get it here, to a country that’s one of the top oil producers in the world? And how does it make sense to ship our oil to market, a few barrels at a time, by rail?

All of this, of course, is now being considered while Saudi Arabia faces growing criticism about human rights abuses, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those criticisms have been publicly expressed by Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Of course we need to mitigate climate change, and our current plans won’t meet reduction targets. But our costly flirtation with wind and solar power have proven that unicorns won’t get us there.

We need pragmatic, measurable action on climate change. But we also need oil for the time being.

Meanwhile, importing billions of dollars of oil from Saudia Arabia serves neither the climate nor this country.

– Postmedia Network

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