Western Canadian agriculture and energy industries now both under attack

August 3, 2022, 5:03 pm
Kevin Weedmark


Two new federal policies are taking aim directly at industries that power the economy not only of Western Canada, but that are vital to the Canadian economy as leading exports.

The first policy took aim at the oil and gas sector, aiming to cap carbon emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Our energy industry is vital to the national economy. In May, energy products accounted for 29.8 per cent of Canadian exports. The Canadian economy would collapse without those exports.

The federal government’s Emissions Reduction Plan calls on the energy industry to reduce oil and gas carbon emissions by 46 per cent below 2019 levels by 2030.

That’s an impossible task without reducing production of energy products, which are our leading export and literally fuel the Canadian economy.

The federal government’s internal analysis shows that the oil and gas sector can only reduce its emissions by half the target using current approaches. The only way to actually meet the federal targets would be to cut oil and gas production, which would damage Alberta and Saskatchewan’s economies, would damage the national economy, which is so dependent on energy exports, and make Canada dependent on foreign energy.

The federal plan would require the energy industry to reduce emissions by 42 per cent over eight years, while requiring transportation and other sectors to cut emissions by only 23 per cent. Transportation and energy each account for a quarter of Canadian emissions.

Not only is the Western Canadian oil and gas industry under attack with these aggressive industry-specific emissions targets, but now the federal government has announced that nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer use would have to be reduced by 30 per cent.

Agriculture producers, who were not consulted by the federal government at all before the emission cuts were announced, say they will be forced to use less fertilizer, leading to less agricultural output. Producing less food in a world with a growing population is a recipe for disaster, for hunger, and for starvation.

Four decades ago there were worries the world would run out of food as the population exploded. The only reason that hasn’t happened is because of better yields in agriculture due to fertilizer use and other improvements in agriculture.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers commissioned a report, which estimated that the Liberals’ targets would cost Alberta $2.95 billion, Saskatchewan $4.61 billion and Manitoba $1.58 billion in lost production.

That study was done last fall, before commodity prices exploded, so the economic impact would likely be much greater now.
Dollars are one thing, but the decreased agriculture production would also come when the world is facing global food shortages.

What a literally insane plan. Cut the fertilizer Prairie farmers use to produce the food to feed the world. Less Canadian exports, less income for farmers, and less food to feed human beings. I can’t really see an upside to this plan.

Not only that, but agriculture operations are generally a carbon sink. Plants as they grow take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, release oxygen back into the atmosphere, and the carbon goes into the plant. When the seeds are harvested, the stalks go back into the soil, building up the soil with carbon from the atmosphere. Why penalize an industry that is taking carbon out of the atmosphere?

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit says the target is arbitrary. “The Trudeau government has apparently moved on from their attack on the oil and gas industry and set their sights on Saskatchewan farmers,” he said.

Why would the government single out two industries—energy and agriculture—that our region’s economy is dependent on, two industries whose exports our nation is dependent on, to take on such drastic emissions cuts?

The economic fallout of these emissions cuts, if the government doesn’t see reason and reverse them, will primarily hit Western Canada.

It is interesting to note that the federal government is putting most of the burden on Western Canada, while other regions, where the Liberal Party is competitive in elections, have their industries either have less onerous emissions caps to meet or be exempted from some requirements altogether, such as a major cement facility in Quebec.

There are two main sources of carbon dioxide. One is emissions and the other is urbanization. This government has attacked emissions in certain industries, but while agricultural land and forests take carbon out of the atmosphere, that impact disappears when a section of land is paved over and built on. But in no way is the government attacking urbanization, the other cause of global warming.

Instead urban voters will be shown emission reduction numbers by this government to show it’s doing something, in a way that doesn’t affect them.