by Cody Battershill

    Time To Stand Up & Speak Out

    It has become evident that access to global markets and global prices for Canadian resources is no longer a given or a guarantee.  Other countries can break ground on new pipelines in less than 1/4 of the time we spend just talking about certain pipeline projects.

    The coordinated effort to disrupt and reduce Canada’s resource opportunity is more than six years old. It is very well funded and very alive. A massive communications and protest infrastructure is in place and we need to do more to offset it, overcome it and continue to create our own resource destiny.

    Despite nearly 50 years of oil sands development in Canada and a world leading regulatory system, we cannot take new pipeline infrastructure for granted.

    Despite approvals of major projects including the Alberta clipper capacity expansion and Keystone, our largest trading partner and neighbour has shunned Keystone XL in the face of coordinated protest and well planned advertising by opponents.

    Did you know that for every $1 the USA invests in trade with Canada they get 90% back in reciprocal trade?

    There are millions of kilometres of pipelines all over the world. Why are new Canadian pipelines any more dangerous, damaging, or unique? The truth is that they are not. New Canadian pipelines are actually among the most reviewed, studied, and advanced in the history of our society.

    Still, regardless of these high standards, there are some who would like to never see a new Canadian pipeline built, converted, or even expanded; the goal being to slow the growth of our oil sands production or even shut it all in.

    In order to get past this challenge, we must engage better with the public at large. We need to respectfully educate through every medium and strategize a plan to use every angle and conduit to ensure we are not shut out of continued resource opportunity for Canada.

    For industry, the importance of public engagement has never been higher. No longer can anyone afford to hope that someone else will do the job and tell the story. Everyone must do their part and contribute to the overall narrative. Having a strong communications plan in place ensures you can effectively maximize internal resources, be prepared in case of the unexpected, advocate for the benefits of your projects, and explain why the social benefits of what you do are so important to the community at large.

    As Canadians, we need a more organized, consistent, and collective playbook to advance industrial projects both regionally and nationally. The social benefits for our country and broader energy security benefits for the world depend on it.

    We need individual actions, and we need a collaborative group for communicating akin to Canada’s oil sands innovation alliance (cosia) and what it is doing for accelerating environmental performance improvement.

    We must explain what we do in easy-to-understand and relatable terms that are grounded in a broader emotional context. We must earn the public’s attention by sharing the positive stories of Canadian resources, Canadian innovation, and Canadian opportunity.

    Do Canadians understand the positive social benefits we experience from oil sands development? According to IHA CERA, this sector is responsible for 478,000 jobs today and will add up to 275,000 new jobs in the next 12 years; this is tremendous new prosperity for our economy from coast to coast. Do Canadians understand the global energy landscape and the context of which countries are the biggest oil producers and which countries are ranked alongside Canada with the world’s top oil reserves? Do Canadians understand how our country ranks for transparency, safety, monitoring, regulation, and social responsibility compared to our peers?

    We can, and we must, do more to share the facts. In 2025, the oil sands industry could contribute $61 billion to Canadian governments. That’s how we pay for roads, schools, hospitals, emergency responders, healthcare professionals and every other daily luxury that we take for granted.

    We have an extremely high quality of living, paid for, in large part, by our country’s abundant natural resource wealth.

    Every individual and every company needs to share the responsibility for telling the local and national story. Everyone needs to meet and exceed regulatory requirements, provide safe and environmentally balanced resource production, and communicate the benefits for Canadian prosperity and opportunity through what we do, day in and day out.

    Get involved now. Join the conservation on Twitter and Facebook. Encourage your company to look at creative new ways to train employees and take a proactive approach to external communications. The time to speak up is now.

    Join Canada’s Action and help spread the word, stand up for our leading environmental record within the global context of resources and promote Canadian prosperity!

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