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Alberta's oil patch has no reason to apologize

It will contribute $3.5 trillion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product over the next 25 years. The royalties it pays the provinces to explore for resources will total $429 billion in that same period.

It will contribute $3.5 trillion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product over the next 25 years. The royalties it pays the provinces to explore for resources will total $429 billion in that same period.

Our economic prosperity as a nation relies in no small part upon it. And yet it continues to get a bad rap.

I’m talking about the oil and gas industry, and Alberta’s oil sands in particular. After several decades spent developing a uniquely Albertan resource, our energy sector has created a powerful economic engine that is having beneficial effects on the quality of Canadians’ lives from coast to coast to coast.

That all sounds pretty positive to me. But that’s rarely the story that gets reported. Political agendas have warped the narrative surrounding this vital industry into a caricature of the truth. If the oil patch were a person, based on some of the press you read, his picture would be hanging on the post office wall.

Alberta accounts for nearly 73 per cent of national oil and gas development and one in every 15 jobs here is related to the sector. But that wealth is also being shared. While the oil patch’s activities will impact Alberta’s GDP by $2.5 trillion over 25 years, the spillover from those investments here will contribute another $400 billion to GDP in other provinces.

That includes the paycheques that are directly benefiting the families of workers who have come to Alberta from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and from all across Canada to work in our oil patch.

Energy resources are being developed in a responsible way that continues to meet the growing global demand for energy – 1.4 million barrels of crude oil are exported every day from Alberta to the United States alone - and continues to improve the quality of life for Canadians everywhere.

Critics of Alberta’s oil sands, especially, are loud and undeniably effective, proving the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease (which, ironically enough, is another product derived from oil production). But the detractors have indulged in myth-making on a scale that has portrayed the oil sands as an environmental nightmare rather than the responsibly managed resource operation that they actually are.

As a result, many Canadians do not really understand the good, responsible environmental work that the industry is doing and the enormous economic benefits that result.

The energy sector, the oil sands included, is a uniquely Albertan contribution to Canada’s economic security. There is no reason for Albertans to apologize for it.

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