Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In the stampede by Canadian politicians of all ideological stripes to support Venezuela’s self-declared “interim president,” has anyone given even a nanosecond’s thought to the impact the handover of the troubled South American petrostate’s government to Juan Guaido would have on Alberta’s oilpatch?

It won’t be pretty.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The federal government’s headlong rush to facilitate regime change in Venezuela is the sort of thing that would normally have Conservative politicians like Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney darkly hinting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is secretly trying to wreck Alberta’s oil industry.

Yet there’s not a peep of that in this case, as the Conservative opposition parties in both Ottawa and Edmonton seem to be completely on board with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Venezuelan wag-the-dog scheme.

Ditto the NDP. Alberta’s New Democratic government seems to have said nothing pro or con. Federal Leader Jagmeet Singh’s messaging is so muddled it’s hard to know what the party’s policy is, or if it will be the same an hour from now.

Self-appointed Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido (Photo: Carlos García Soto; Wikimedia Commons).

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who acts as the Liberal Government’s spokesperson on this file, sounds persuasive, even if what she says often makes considerably less sense on close examination.

Regardless, there’s not a word of acknowledgement from Ms. Freeland or anyone else that a takeover by a politician who has promised to hand his country’s huge oil reserves over to the U.S. petroleum industry might have big implications for Alberta, let alone what to do about them.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Photo: Wilsom Dias/Agência Brasil; Wikimedia Commons).

Ms. Freeland tells Canadian protesters who objected to Ottawa undermining the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that they enjoy democracy and, “I am sad to say, political protesters in Venezuela do not.” Meanwhile, her government takes the fact tens of thousands are demonstrating against the Maduro government in Venezuela as an argument for regime change.

In an interview earlier this week with the CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti, Ms. Freeland insisted Canada must help the suffering people of Venezuela, but supported U.S. actions that have denied them food and medicine. U.S. sanctions may not be the principal reason for Venezuela’s economic crisis, but they are at least part of the cause of the country’s refugee crisis.

Toronto Star Journalist Thomas Walkom (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Ms. Freeland defended Canada as “a rule of law country” in the context of our current disputes with China over the arrest of a Chinese national arrested in Canada at the behest of the United States, but articulately supported the overthrow of the elected president of a foreign country on the grounds his domestic opponents say his election was rigged. She then observed, accurately enough, “If we let it become a law of the jungle kind of world, that is not a good world for Canada.”

She told Ms. Tremonti: “We need to be working really, really hard to maintain that rules-based international order and to build coalitions of like-minded countries who are going to work to maintain that order.” Seconds later she said: “That’s something that we’re doing in the Lima group” – which is pledged to force out Venezuela’s government.

Every word was delivered in tones both confident and reassuring.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Perhaps the explanation for this seeming cognitive dissonance, as Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom recently suggested, is that Ottawa doesn’t really give a hang about Mr. Maduro’s government but is looking for a way to suck up to Mr. Trump’s.

Regardless, the potential for unintended consequences in Alberta’s oilpatch seems to have been ignored completely, if it has even occurred to anyone as a possibility.

The problem for Alberta arises from our man Guaido’s promise to end the Maduro Government’s policy of requiring the national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to hold a controlling stake in any joint venture with a foreign oil company. That would open the door to heavy U.S. corporate involvement in the vast Venezuelan oil reserves, said to be the largest in the world, and which include oilsands similar in size to Alberta’s. That, in turn, would end the United States’ blockade of Venezuelan oil, part of its campaign to topple the Maduro Government.

This is potentially serious for Alberta because Venezuela is conveniently located just across the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico from the U.S. refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas, where most of Alberta’s low-quality bitumen nowadays ends up.

CBC broadcaster Anna Maria Tremonti (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In the simplest terms, one likely effect of this unfolding scenario would be to flood those American refineries with cheap, heavy oil from Venezuela.

After that, it’s just a matter of supply and demand. A big increase in supply, conveniently located for inexpensive ocean transfer, will depress the price fetched by Alberta oil, especially low-quality oilsands bitumen.

Given the size of Venezuela’s reserves, the low prices could last for a very long time – possibly until the planet’s transition from a fossil fuel economy is complete.

U.S.-owned fossil fuel companies that have resisted building refining capacity in Alberta because they don’t want to compete with underused capacity at their Gulf Coast operations will have no problem replacing their Canadian supplies with cheaper Venezuelan crude. They have no loyalty to any jurisdiction, or to any notion of “ethical oil,” only to the best price and the best return on investment.

Where will Alberta be then? You’d think that would be a matter of concern for both federal Canadian and Alberta politicians, yet no one who holds office or is likely to appears to have given it a moment’s thought.

No doubt about it, Venezuela is a catastrophic mess. But should Canadian governments be advancing a solution to its troubles that may well make things worse and will certainly hurt Alberta’s essential oil industry and the Canadians who work in it?

Join the Conversation


  1. Venezuela has been a slow motion train wreck up until now and we can debate whose fault that is. I believe two things. First, there is plenty of blame to go around, secondly and more importantly it will continue to unfold slowly.

    Yes, I think there will be regime change and the US will have a big role in it. However, Trump for all his faults seems genuinely reluctant to get too involved in the foreign misadventures that the US has seemed so eager to jump into in the recent past. US politicians like Bush thought a little foreign war would provide a good distraction from domestic problems, that is until these misadventured bogged the US down and exacerbated these problems.

    Therefore, I suspect a much more covert plan is being developed this time that will involve no US troops on the ground as opposed to the faster regime change in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. It will also take some time for Venezuela’s oil industry to get back up to speed. I don’t think this will happen before the upcoming Alberta election.

    Once regime change, or the counter revolution as I think it will more likely be called, happens the US will rush in with Marshall plan style loans. Of course, these loans will be repaid with big interest by increasing oil production considerably. Essentially, this will be a refined version of what should have happened in Iraq or Libya, if the plans hadn’t been bungled so bad. Perhaps the US might be more succesful this time, they have had plenty of practice in recent years at how not to do it.

  2. Freeland is pro-fascist, Trudeau is a star f***er dilettante with no brains or spine, Scheer is trying to be further right than Freeland, and Singh is invisible.
    We’re as ill served as the US with their two party corporate owned system and a press that’s all on board.
    We get one message only, that Maduro must go.
    You have to read the discredited tinfoil hat alternative press to find out any other view, such as the fact that this is just a rehash of Chile in the 1970s, and it’s all about getting Venezuelan oil into American hands.
    And if you say that you are instantly dismissed as a Russian agent.
    This is one of the stupider times in human history.

  3. “Ms. Freeland tells Canadian protesters who objected to Ottawa undermining the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that they enjoy democracy and, ‘I am sad to say, political protesters in Venezuela do not.'”

    Argument of convenience. Canada supports, tolerates, and trades with several non-democratic nations. Human rights abusers China and Saudi Arabia come to mind. Russia. Cuba.

    In the waning years of the petro-state, with Big Oil desperate to protect its profits (“The Big Stall”), one may be forgiven for wondering whether Canadians “enjoy democracy”. Yes, we get a vote, but then what?
    A litany of betrayals and broken campaign promises. With a smile.

    Under our first-past-the-post system, only the votes for the winning candidate count. The rest are tossed out. Millions of votes wasted. Millions of voices silenced. Not very democratic.

    In Alberta, Big Oil and petro-politics is the only option on the ballot.
    See Kevin Taft’s “Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa”.

    “…But with a government working in the interests of industry, citizens have been left out of the decision-making process, where the only way to register their voice is from behind the blockade line where they are marginalized, or worse, criminalized as radicals.”

    Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. In their pro-corporate stance, these are just two wings of the same party.
    On energy and climate, Notley and Kenney are on the same page. Now we have zero oil industry critics in the AB Legislature. And there won’t be any after 2019. Banished to opposition benches, a much-diminished NDP will be able to say nothing about oilsands expansion, oil & gas pollution, and climate inaction — because they leapt into bed with Big Oil.

    1. “ …Under our first-past-the-post system, only the votes for the winning candidate count. The rest are tossed out. Millions of votes wasted. Millions of voices silenced. Not very democratic… “ No argument here. But unfortunately, Canadians seem to be irrevocably wedded to our relatively undemocratic Single-Member Plurality system, aka FPTP. Every time they are asked about changing to PropRep, they say “thanks, but no thanks”; the recently completed plebiscite in BC is the most recent example.

      I think the issue is that the average Canadian voter values that one-to-one relationship between their electoral district, riding or constituency and their elected representative, whether it be a federal MP or provincial MLA, far more than they value any notion that the composition of the elected House reflect the popular vote. Canadians, for good or ill, continue to value the quaint 19th-century notion that their local MLA or MP is not just an elected representative in the legislature, but is also a sort of “super-Ombudsman” who can act on their behalf to break down bureaucratic barriers to get things done for constituents—what’s known amongst politicians as “constituency work”. Electing MPs or MLAs off of party lists, as would be necessary for true PR to be implemented, would more than likely mean a diminishment of that role, and Canadian voters simply don’t seem keen on that.

      I think the only solution remaining would be one that would increase the cost of running elections quite significantly: change Single-Member Plurality to Single-Member Majority, requiring a candidate to get a true Majority of all votes cast to be elected in their electoral district, and conduct run-off elections in those EDs when no candidate wins a majority. It wouldn’t be truly proportional, but at least every MP or MLA serving would eventually be elected by a majority of voters. Of course, no Canadian jurisdiction is going to do that, because it would be more expensive than our current FPTP election machinery, and that simply would never fly.

      1. With respect, Jerry, I think you’re wrong that “the average Canadian voter values that one-to-one relationship between their electoral district, riding or constituency and their elected representative.” In fact, I think most Canadians don’t give a hoot, and those who do mostly support some form of proportional representation. A significant – and growing minority – are openly hostile to democracy, or at least what we’d normally call “democratic norms.” In every case the campaigns against democratic reform have been (a) fear-based (“do you want to hand the balance of power to tiny religious parties, I mean, other than ours?), and (b) run by conservatives who benefit from the current system.

      2. BC’s 2018 electoral-systems Referendum is a poor example of what Canadian (BC) voters want: we can’t tell if voters rejected prop-rep (by a decisive two-to-one margin) or the cocked-up process the governing party imposed onto what was should have been a completely nonpartisan, impartial referendum process. Personally, I don’t support pro-rep—for pretty good reasons, I think—but, nevertheless, BC Referendum was basically unfair to pro-rep supporters because the governing party salted in so many conflicts of interest (because it didin’t Delegate the process to the Chief Electoral Officer), confusing pro-rep options (one of them that party’s longtime endorsement, another that would have imposed two, separate systems, one for urban area, another for rural, and another a never-before-used conundrum), and mysteriously reserved decisions voters needed to know (in order to make an informed choice) for itself until after the Referendum —the irony, which might have been intentional, being that it appeared the government had given pro-rep so many unfair advantages over the status quo that it was too much for voters to take—and they spoke loud and clear.

        You seem amenable to a ranked-ballot type of system (“Instant Runoff, for example) that would require each riding elects a parliamentarian by a majority (and thus each government would be assumed to represent an overall majority without offending our innurement to local representation). That option (or any majoritarian system) wasn’t on BC’s Referendum ballot. IRV requires only one voting opportunity, unlike, say, party leadership elections where separate voting happens in a series of ballots until a majority has been achieved; rather the IRV majority is achieved statistically by an automatic elimination method; it wouldn’t be any more expensive or lengthy than a FPtP election.

        One of the worst aspects of BC’s 2018 Referendum (our third in a decade-and-a-half, each rejecting pro-rep) was, as usual, public funding of two “official” advocates, status quo or alternative, each propagating what they would—including patent falsehoods about their own preference and their rival’s. In the end, the “Yes” (pro-rep) side had told so many falsehoods as to thoroughly discredit themselves and any of the pro-rep options. Sure, that might be one measurement of how much pro-reppers wanted to change the system, but it probably put a wary electorate off—not of pro-rep, necessarily, but of the government’s horrible roll-out and voters’—especially pro-reppers—plain unpreparedness to adopt pro-rep: pro-reppers especially seemed not to understand the basics of out Westminster parliamentary system. Perhaps if they had admitted that the main criticism of pro-rep is a real issue ( that it opens the opportunity for small, potentially extremist parties, to win the balance of power with only a few seats) instead of making up preposterous rationalizations about how that would be either an impossible outcome or one which would be more democratic, both positions easily refuted by anyone who understands how and why elections are held—I dare say including even better-educated pro-reppers who were admittedly willing to take on that risk. FPtP supporters were called lying “scaremongers” or the dupes of shadowy, powerful interests merely for pointing out a fact.

        It might have been that FPtP supporters were more strongly united (being slagged without warrant by pro-rep propagandists probably helped) than pro-reppers who, as it was in BC’s 2018 exercise, had three systems to defend and promote, some opting for one and necessarily rejecting the choice of their ostensible co-partisans.

        The most misconceived element, IMHO, is that many voters naively think pro-rep would more precisely represent voters policy opinions when, in reality, a riding’s parliamentarian is essentially needed to vote for or against the cabinet’s budget, and nothing more. Pro-reppers (in BC) continually displayed their notion that the pro-rep elected parliament, which is almost always hung, sits down and hammers out policy all together consensually, each party contributing; that, naturally, isn’t how Westminster parliaments work: rather, the Governor recognizes the group (alliance or formal coalition of more than one party) which can pass “money bills” by a majority of parliamentary votes as the government; elected parties not in this group get as much say in forming policy as opposition parties do now under FPtP—that is, not very much. I think blatant misconceptions like that helped to sink pro-reppers’ boat. We weren’t asked to change the parliamentary system (which would require a difficult to achieve Constitutional Amendment, in any case) and pro-reppers either didn’t appear to know that, or their official advocacy group had propagated untruths about parliamentary procedure on their behalf.

  4. When Maduro took over the reins of power in 2013 Venezuala was producing 2.7 million barrels per day. Today they are producing roughly 1.3 million barrels per day. In 2014 refinery utilization in Venezuala was over 60%, today it is at 22%. The government owns and runs all the oil producing infrastructure in Venezuala and has run it into the ground. Somewhere I read inflation is something like 1 million percent per year. It certainly appears that people are suffering. They are hungry and lack access to proper medical care. If Guaido comes to power my greatest hope is that he would allow humanitarian aid into Venezuala which Maduro will not. If he lets foreign companies improve Venezuala’s oil production ability and this improves the people’s quality of life I am all for it. As for your concern for Alberta, you have just made another compelling arguement for oil export pipelines to tidewater. Enjoy your day.

    1. …and another compelling reason to reject the risk of a dilbit spill in the Salish Sea because even lower prices for a sunset industry’s only product, high-GHG-processed Dilbit, makes that risk even less worth it than it is now.

      True, how much profit Big Bitumen does or doesn’t make shouldn’t matter to West Coasters because BC’s not constitutionally cut-in for a piece of the resource revenue; but it’s still a matter of principles (the rule-of-law with respect Aboriginal Rights and Title on ‘unceded’ territory—which is almost all of BC, west of the Rockies—and the environmentally imprudent increase of petroleum combustion into the atmosphere, for examples) which make the growing political opposition to TMX (the pipeline proposal to supply and ship supertankers of dilbit through the busy inside waters of BC and Washington state) all the stronger. Hope yer enjoying your day as much as I am mine!

    2. My concern is certainly an argument for oil export pipelines to tidewater, although I’m not sure it’s a very compelling one. It would be, I suppose, if the Law of Supply and Demand had been suspended (as far as I have heard, it has not), if Asia had sufficient interest in buying diluted bitumen (it has some, but not at a price high enough to make Alberta’s bitumen mining industry sustainable), or if there was a long-term future for growth in the fossil fuel industry (one way or another, this seems unlikely). Not to be overly pessimistic, but my prognosis for the future is that while fossil fuel companies will stall change that impedes their profits for a time, behind the scenes they will be transferring their assets into other businesses and leaving taxpayers in many countries holding the bag for their liabilities. In Alberta, that means, we are probably hooped – and we are certainly hooped if we elect a UCP government led by Jason Kenney, as seems likely. The only upside to this scenario I can see is that at least all the “Alberta separatists” will go home to Newfoundland and the Maritimes when the oil industry pulls up stakes and bugs out of here. DJC

      1. Shell divested their FMM assets and used the money to buy into LNG. My take on that move, is that natural gas is the transitional fuel for grid power. The fact that fuel oil is still what powers all the planes, trains, most autos, and every ship in the sea? Well I’d say we have a way to go! I’m always amazed that people can’t or won’t face facts. I guess it’s our innate proclivity to be stupid! Hello monkeys!

      2. I certainly agree with you that Alberta is hooped. My reason for believing this is a little different than yours. Neither of the 2 most popular parties has a realistic plan on funding government. My understanding of NDP ideology is that to increase revenue higher taxes should be applied to corporations and to higher income earners but to continue to spend beyond our means until the economy grows enough that revenues catch up to expenses. Increasing these taxes has not increased revenues and our provincial debt has increased at an alarming rate. The UCP on the other hand believes decreasing taxes on corporations and high income earners will attract investment increasing employment therefore increasing revenue. They also believe government spending can be cut to reduce debt accumulation. While this looks good to voters I personally think the realistic amount that can be cut is fairly small. The only solution as I have said before is a sales tax. Demographics contribute to this necessity. As the population ages a higher percentage enter retirement reducing incomes and therefore income tax revenue but they still buy goods and services that a sales tax can be applied to creating a more consistent revenue source for government. Unfortunately Alberta voters are totally against a sales tax and by the time one is implemented we will be in one helluva mess.

        As for the demise of fossil fuels, at present all you have to do is look at the AESO supply and demand report which gives up to the minute electrical demand and where it is being generated in Alberta to see how dependent we are on fossil fuels for electricity. During this latest cold snap I have looked at this various times. Electricity demand has been fairly constant around 11300-11400 megawatts(mw). We have 1445 MW of generating potential from wind turbines. Over the last few days their output has ranged from a low of 9 mw to a high of 200 mw. So their efficiency has ranged from below 1% to a high of 14%. I am not surprised, when we are in a cold stable air mass there is very little wind. As for solar the only one listed is in Brooks, which can produce a maximum of 15 mw. This afternoon at roughly 1:30 it was producing 2 mw or 13% efficiency. So where was most of our power coming from? Coal and natural gas. They have provided between 93 to 94% of our electric power over the last few days. Some hydro and biomass and some imported power from Montana provides the rest. The demise of fossil fuels as far as electricity goes in Alberta is certainly a day or two away. Enjoy your day.

        1. Brian: I agree with most of what you have said here, as it happens. Certainly there will long be a market for fossil fuels, if only to fly airplanes, as you have pointed out in the past. The problem is prices, if demand falls as it is bound to, and sustainability, if prices are too low to sustain expensive marginal operations like oilsands mining. I also agree that the refusal to address revenue needs as a major failing of both the NDP and the UCP. I always enjoy my days, thank you. DJC

        2. Farmer Brian; I too agree with you! We must advocate for sales and consumption taxes like the carbon trade. That’s how we can navigate our vulnerability to pandering short term thinking! You may be smarter than me, but you need me as much as I need you! I’d say it’s time to save us from ourselves! You want to coerce the Jason Kenney demographic? I’d say fool you twice! You want coerce the Rachel Notely party? She has yet to fool me!

        3. Farmer Brian; I too agree with you! We must advocate for sales and consumption taxes like the carbon trade. That’s how we can navigate our vulnerability to pandering short term thinking! You may be smarter than me, but you need me as much as I need you! I’d say it’s time to save us from ourselves! You want to coerce the Jason Kenney demographic? I’d say fool you twice! You want to coerce the Rachel Notley party? She has yet to fool me!

      3. I like to look back when I have chance, to see what comments your posts have generated. In this case I re-read one of your replies, and it hit me! Right before my retirement there were jet capable aerodromes everywhere up in the sands. Transportation of workers was a huge business. Suncor had an airline! At the time, being one of the E 7/8 Suncor shifts, I was living in town and had a vehicle pass, so other than 5 am traffic and the insane 4:30 am line up at Tim Horton’s I was as always? An Albertan 24/7/365, and that meant tax time too! I heard around 2006 that there were 250,000 people engaged in living and working in the patch, bounded in the south from Wandering river on #63 and Conklin on #883. AB tax? Sales tax? Ok then!

  5. I heard the oil companies are not that keen about these regeime change shenanigans. The oil companies make their money processing and refining. The business of extracting crude out of the ground and sticking it barrels is something they would rather have somebody else worry about even if its nationalized. A local gov’t will have more than enough incentive to get their oil to port and onto tankers as efficently as possible as it represents a revenue stream.

    Violently overthrowing the Maduro gov’t will make Venezuela highly unstable. The place has lots of jungle which is ideal for guerrilla warfare and most of Venezula’s oil is located in remote jungle areas. A regeime change will make the supply of oil to US refineries less stable.

  6. So, just for transparency sake? I’m what you call a: “greasy no logo pogo”! Shall we say that; I and the folks who I hang with, don’t quite fit in? Ok then! You want out of this mess? Do exactly what Rachel and her government has done. More home style upgrading. The USA will soon begin it’s creative destruction phase. If anything survives that? You’ll need full stream capability! Oh all Right! I have a song for you! Don’t put it on loop though! Maybe just stare at your melted Beatles album!

  7. This is an excellent article. Only if it could have been the length of a book.

    Before Hugo Chavez became the democratically elected leader of Venezuela in 1999, the country was under right wing control and getting “raped.” Education and health care were poor. A lot of people were hungry and not doing well. Hugo Chavez came into power and spread the country’s wealth to the poor so people could become educated and get health care. Lives improved greatly.

    The moment Hugo Chavez came into power, the Americans and their corrupt allies started playing hard ball with the Venezuela. Sanctions and assassination attempts are what the Americans do when they don’t like a country’s choice in leadership. The Americans have done everything they could other than outright war to destroy Venezuela. The sanctions are basically weapons of mass Venezuelan destruction and basically should be considered criminal.

    From: former UN special rapporteur to Venezuela, Alfred de Zeyas
    — “when such sanctions cause death through malnutrition, lack of access to medicines like insulin, anti-retroviral drugs, anti-malaria drugs, dyalysis etc. — and in the case of Venezuela many hundreds if not thousands of Venezuelans have died because of scarcities and distribution delays caused by the sanctions — this is deliberate homicide, this is murder, this is a crime against humanity, and could be examined under article 7 of the Statute of the ICC. Many governments should send complaints to the ICC Prosecutor at the Hague.”

    I find it a joke that Americans send humanitarian aid trucks to the boarder of Venezuela while having sanctions that are destroying the economy and killing people. This is the worst public relations joke I have ever seen and the corrupt media, like the CBC and Global (which is American backed) , is swallowing it up and not doing journalism to tell people the real story. Or perhaps the big corporate media, like CBC and Global, is doing journalism- fake journalism to brainwash the masses.

  8. The gist of DJC’s observes characteristics of a six century-old epoch called ‘globalization’; the variables are the same three-legged milking-stool or three-sided fireworks pinwheel as they’ve been lo all this time: strategy, mercantile commerce and technology, each ‘side’ or ‘leg’ of the globalization triangle supporting the superstructure in profitable stasis—just the way the wealthy like it. Thus we see, with respect Venezuela, the United State’s global and hemispheric hegemony in strategic terms (re: ‘accidentally’ revealed “5000 US troops”) amid nervous recollections of America’s military interventions in foreign affairs past, and now also America’s currently narcissistic economic viewpoint, and its technology that dutifully supports the other two legs by eschewing innovation of alternative, non-petroleum energy sources while garrisoning oil resources. Or, in short, the triangle of irresistible main force, monopoly and gizmos high-tech enough to keep it all “America First.”

    Canada of course casts into this six hundred year-old drama as a bit player—a dilbit player—the subplot being something entirely new to both the epoch of globalization and times immemorial before that: this is the first time humankind has run out of places to grow or gather its food, maintain ecological engines that provide breathable air and drinkable water, build its cities, roads, airports and harbours, and dump its toxic exhausts and garbage. We know this because the integrity of each tripod leg which has for centuries held us in good stead is now being challenged by this new world, often because its own success has become excessive, and it’s trigonometric strength has weaken by a simple maxim of mechanics: you can’t push on a rope—at least not profitably. The main characters are Mutual Assured Destruction (its success is excess), gaping inequality (the peasants are revolting, the lords only more so) and, naturally, ecologically toxic industrial pollution. It’s this last leg that’s giving the world so much grief—and Canada’s perfectly cast for a role in its dramatization.

    Hitherto, from the beginning of human time, right through globalization, almost to the present, there was no war, busted market or despoiled verdancy that couldn’t be fixed by simply moving to the next pristine frontier. Now that we’ve run out of room the candle burns at both ends, we consuming more than any capacity to replenish supply, let alone meet increasing demand; the bottom of the barrel has come into view through the murk. A new element has appeared to challenge the globalization superstar: it’s the environment. Who knew? Shakespeare? Neil Simon?

    So, while DJC focuses mostly on the economic ramifications for Alberta if Americans play to wrest Venezuelan resource from its sovereign owners, the environmental aspect of bitumen mining and smelting is only hinted at by way of noting that Alberta’s “heavy oil” —diluted bitumen—is of relatively low quality compared with Venezuela’s non-bitumenous, heavy (real) oil. Naturally that difference is of mercantile importance, but when it comes time for Canada to recite its lines, it laments that not only is dilbit of inferior quality to Venezuelan oil in price terms, its per-unit greenhouse-gas processing output is way, way bigger. It’s the environmental subplot that’s also important to us Canadians, in a way that it simply isn’t for the USA or Venezuela or any other naturally-liquid oil producer.

    Enter stage left: globalization meets Mother Nature somewhere between Fort Mac and Burnaby. The denouement would have to be: if the marketability of dilbit gets worse than it already is because a flood of Venezuelan oil out-competes it, then the substantial environmental risks of increasing production, some proven, others feared, make the TMX pipeline, for example, look even less worth it. With the largest patch of bitumen in the world, a vocal, well-funded and growing environmental movement opposed to increasing dilbit production, beautiful natural vistas of mountains, lakes, rivers and seas, and whole cities threatened by wildfires and floods attributed to climate change, Canada’s a natural for this bit part. Like for any actor, this dilbit part is very important to us, the economics merely contextual.

  9. Freeland is a wannabe warmonger

    Her active effort to replace Venezuela’s Government began with her formation of the Lima Group, nearly two years ago.

    Canada’s Ottawa Citizen headlined on 19 August 2017, “Choosing Danger”, and their reporter Peter Hum interviewed Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, who was then retiring from the post. Rowswell said that Venezuelans who wanted an overthrow of their Government would continue to have the full support of Canada’s Government:

    “‘I think that some of them were sort of anx­ious that it (the em­bassy’s support for hu­man rights and democ­racy in Venezuela) might not con­tinue after I left,’ Rowswell said. ‘I don’t think they have any­thing to worry about be­cause Minister (of For­eign Af­fairs Chrys­tia) Free­land has Venezuela way at the top of her pri­or­ity list.’”

  10. It will take years for Venezuela’s oil industry to recover from decades of neglect and mismanagement and by then the market will have changed again. The oil market is complex and this analysis is lightweight and another in a long line of attempts to create negativity around the Canadian oilsands industry.

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