Wake up Canada; We are being played on the pipeline debate ~ Hugh Holland



Every year brings increasingly frequent and severe wildfires and extreme weather events.  It is increasingly clear that we must wean ourselves from fossil fuels for two good reasons:

  1. Fossil fuels are the main source of the man-made component of climate change.
  2. Based on latest available official data, the world’s “proven” reserves of oil and gas will be depleted in 50 to 60 years. “Proven” means 90 per cent probability of being technically and economically accessible.

The USA, EU, and China are the biggest oil consumers and (at current production rates) will deplete their reserves in 15 years or less. But it will take at least 30 years to replace most of the global fleet with electric cars and trucks, not to mention rail, marine and air transportation. Shutting down or running out of oil before electric vehicles and supporting clean energy sources can be fully scaled up would impact the world economy and extend the transition.  Canada is one of only five countries, and the only stable democracy, that can supply the oil the world will need until the end of this century.  Can we do that and still meet our agreed upon emissions goals?  Yes, we can.

Canada ranks as a high per capita producer of emissions because we are a cold country, with low population density, and we provide the world with more food and resources than most. Canada creates 1.54 per cent of global CO2 emissions, but we can achieve our 2030 emissions goal with the following actions:

  • Coal – Electricity switched to hydro, nuclear, wind, solar (Already complete except Alberta and Sask.).
  • Oil – Switching the 50 per cent of cars and light trucks that mostly operate in urban areas to electricity.
  • Gas – 10 per cent of building heat conserved or switched to geothermal, oil sands extraction and upgrading switched advanced nuclear power and heat to enable oil production with zero emissions.

The above explains why the world will need Canada’s oil for several more decades, why Canada needs appropriate pipeline capacity, and how our emissions targets can be met. But neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have been able to get pipelines built to move our product to market because the public and our two main political parties are being played (manipulated) against each other by well-funded forces outside of Canada.

Since 88 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves reside in autocracies where environmentalists have little say, US and European anti-oil activists believe they can have the most impact by attacking the 10 per cent in Canada. According to CSIS, they are funding opposition to the development of Canada’s oil resources and pipelines. CSIS also reports that Russian internet trolls have been operating here to try to disrupt our oil business just as they did  the 2016 US elections.  Putin sees Canada as a competitor in the oil business.

These external forces worked to disrupt and destabilize Conservative’s efforts to build pipelines, and they are doing the same to the Liberals.  

The Northern Gateway Pipeline was approved by the Harper government but overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal in a June 2016 finding that said, “Canada offered only a hurried and inadequate opportunity to exchange and discuss information with aboriginal peoples.” The Liberals reasoned there should be less opposition to increasing capacity of the existing Trans-Mountain Pipeline route and terminal rather than building a new Northern Gateway route and terminal. But in May 2018, the Federal Court said essentially the same thing to the Liberals about the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

Neither Liberals nor Conservatives should interfere with National Energy Board (NEB) or Federal Court decisions. They could appeal to the Supreme Court but that would likely take as long as going back to patch the holes in the original NEB ruling and First Nations consultations.  The courts cannot help but be aware of public opinion (that can be shaped by outside propaganda agents) and there is no guarantee the Supreme Court would decide differently than the lower court if they thought their decision could cause or prevent violent protests.

In February 2019, the NEB recommended the government approve the Trans Mountain pipeline citing it is in the national interest but suggested a series of measures to minimize noise impact on the coastal whale population.  The noise impact from over 100 BC Ferry departures per day would far exceed that of the one additional mid-sized oil tanker per day.  BC ferries are re-fitting their ships with noise reduction technology. The new consultation process with First Nations required by the court is proceeding under the direction of former Supreme Court Judge Frank Iacobucci. The outcome of these two corrections could still be challenged in the Supreme Court.

External agitators are doing their best to ensure that no amount of consultation or world-leading safety measures will be enough.   By disrupting and destabilizing the efforts of both main political parties while they are in office, these external forces are preventing both parties from building pipelines. The result is millions of dollars lost every day to unfair US oil price discounting and keeping “the only stable democracy with capacity to supply oil to the world for as long as it is needed” out of the market.

It is incumbent upon Canada to share our abundant resources with those who will need them, and to do our share to reduce global emissions. We can do both, if our political parties work together to prevent strong and well-funded external forces from dividing us and disrupting our efforts.

Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.

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Reference documents

Foreign influence in Canada – https://www.canada.ca/en/security-intelligence-service/corporate/espionage-and-foreign-influence.html

 Big money behind anti-oil sands movement – https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathryn-marshall/anti-oil-sands-funding_b_1121071.html 

Greenpeace vs Conservatives and Liberals – https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2018/05/17/Oil-Industry-Canada-Deep-State/

350.org is a large international climate action group based in the USA –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/350.org

Climate action groups organize protests in Canadian cities  – https://riseforclimate.org/canada/



  1. Hugh, I reiterate how much I enjoy your intelligent, reasoned articles: you are a local resource (unfortunately though, not a fossil fuel alternative).
    Two questions/comments:
    1) how does the route for Northern Gateway differ from Eagle Spirit?; and
    2) what a shame that Nature blessed us doubly with cold weather and a surfeit of granite: who wouldn’t at least attempt the geothermal alternative; if they didn’t encounter bedrock 15 cm below the surface?

    • Do the anti pipe liners think the customers for Canadas oil are not getting all the oil they want from other suppliers who dont want competion from Canada.
      It took us 100 years to get into this mess it will take 50 years to out of it.
      Hugh is correct cut off oil before an alternate we starve..

  2. Hugh Holland on

    Rob, I will try to answer your questions.
    1. The Northern Gateway project included a new oil pipeline and a new terminal at Kitimat BC and then a long narrow channel for the mid-sized tankers to traverse to get to the open ocean. The proponents adopted marine safety measures used successfully in similar situations along the coast of Norway, such as having local pilots on board ship and having 2 tugs with one tethered at all times. But that was not enough to satisfy activists and local people. The Trans-Mountain project is to double capacity for an existing pipeline and terminal. The Eagle Spirit project is defined as a new energy corridor to transport oil, natural gas and electricity across northern BC to a new terminal at Prince Rupert ON THE OPEN OCEAN. The First Nations lawyer leading Eagle Spirit claims to have approval from 90% of First Nations along the route. The Eagle Spirit project started several years after both Northern gateway and Trans-Mountain. Had it been earlier, it might have been done by now. Timing is everything.

    2. You are right. Geothermal has very limited application in our part of Canada. Air-to-air heat pumps are good for the mid to southern US but not in Canada. Ground to air heat pumps require about 500 feet of underground piping per house which only works in rural areas with plenty of soil depth. A better solution for urban heating in Canada is district heating that pipes hot water from waste incinerators or small nuclear reactors into urban areas. That is being used quite extensively in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland where they run the hot water pipes along with municipal water and electricity under keyed sidewalk slabs that are easily lifted for service. It would be easiest to start in new developments. It is expensive to retrofit established areas but after its installed, there is no fuel cost. Google district heating in Helsinki Finland.

    • Point of clarification on the TransMountain pipeline. Capacity is proposed to almost triple, from the existing 300,000 barrels/day in the existing line to 890,000 barrels/day with the addition of a second line, once it is fully built out. This increased capacity will be from construction of a new large diameter pipe in the existing corridor. So to recap, the future state will be 300,000 bbl/day in the existing line plus 590,000 bbl/day in the new line, for a total of 890,000 bbl/day.

      Also, Northern Gateway was approved by both the National Energy Board and the Federal Government as two lines; one small diameter line to import condensate from the Kitimat terminal and one larger line for oil to the Kitimat terminal. The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the approval and concurrently, Justin Trudeau imposed a tanker ban on the North Coast and also formally rejected the pipeline.

      Finally, TransCanada voluntarily pulled their proposed Energy East Pipeline based on solid Quebec opposition to it, and the negative implications of a pending complex reworking of existing Federal Environmental Assessment criteria (Bill C69).

      Not arguing the general intent of the article, I just wanted to clarify these details and add some more heat to the issue.


  3. Timely approval for pipeline construction and other large energy projects requires clearing away all of the insane regulations which hamstring progress in Canada. We know that massive foreign intervention is a major factor in Canada’s approval processes. Our politics & media have been hijacked by the NGO’s some in part publicly financed and mostly foreign based and financed environmental groups. No other major energy producing country allows their public policy on energy to be perverted as Canada does. We are deluded by outside intervention into tolerating this state of affairs.
    I suggest that sweeping changes be made to existing laws and new laws be enacted to entirely prohibit any money from non Canadian sources to be used to fund interventions in Canadian hearings re energy project approvals. Also standing to intervene should be limited to directly effected entities. Strict timelines should apply. The laws should be crafted to prevent our courts from interfering with the public interest as has been the case recently. Unless action of this type is taken in Canada we are dupes and fools.
    How many times do we need to be told that Canada has an insignificant impact on global climate before we wake up and defend our interests ?

  4. Linda Mathers on

    Hugh, thank you for your explanation of how we in Canada can meet our emissions targets in order to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. We can agree this is critical in the face of urgent action needed on climate change. I do however strongly oppose your rhetoric that portrays environmentalists as “foreign interference” in Canada’s resource based industry. I would urge everyone who has read your article to also read all of the links you provided to support your point of view. Several of these links paint a very different picture. I, for one, am thankful that there is a global network of people in organizations working diligently to educate the public on the need for urgent action. They are standing up to the powerful lobbyists of the oil and gas industry that have had and continue to have such a massive impact on government policy. This industry has know since the 70’s that their industry was creating irreversible climate change. Because of the profit driven motives of the major global oil companies and their ability to influence every level of government we are all victims of the lack of political will to make the dramatic changes needed to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Count me on the side of the “external forces”, the global environmental movement fighting to save the planet. I loose sleep at night knowing that my grandchildren are unlikely to experience the joy of grandparenting. Because of our climate denial and climate inaction, their children will choose NOT to bring another generation into the world we are on a path to leaving to them.

    • Linda, the “foreign interference” Hugh mentions can be understood here, about halfway through the article. Look for references to Vivian Krause, the Rockefeller Foundation, Tides USA,, Tides Canada, and the Hewlett and Packard families.


      With respect, I’m not sure who you are referring to when you mention the powerful lobbyists of the oil and gas Industry. Some information on that from you would help my understanding.

      I also welcome your opinion of the influence of environmentalists on Public policy who have resided deep within the current Federal Government (the PMO’s office and Federal Environment and Natural Resource Ministries) as described in the article Ive provided above.

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