In Superman comic books, it’s known as the Bizarro World — where a situation or meaning is weirdly inverted or opposite to expectations. The Duel occupies such a space for my opponent, who traditionally argues from the left, but who has proffered from the right a classical defence of non-governmental intervention in the free-market. Petr extols the virtues of capitalism’s penchant for creative destruction and argues an industry bailout only “rewards failure, and stunts the growth of efficient enterprises.” Bravo! I could not agree more.

However, a classic free market critique of Canada’s oil and gas industry is nearly impossible since the government at every level has already intervened through regulation and policy that circumvents the oil and gas markets from operating freely. Bizarro World has also taken hold in Alberta, where NDP Premier Rachel Notley finds herself pleading with Canada’s largest private-sector union to back the push to build more pipelines, thus rejecting the insanity of the Leap Manifesto. The utopian principles set forth in the manifesto would decimate industry and lead to a complete re-ordering of the Canadian economy. The federal NDP embraced principles of the manifesto at its national convention — leaving Notley isolated on the left struggling to save Alberta’s oil and gas sector and the jobs that go with it.

Uncompromising zealots opposing pipelines and tankers are holding the lives of Canadians across the country hostage to their extreme vision of a fossil-free future. This includes Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who consistently obstructs all efforts to open up additional tidewater access to Canadian oil producers, allowing for more Canadian product to be shipped overseas. The mayor’s disdain is not limited to oil. Council passed a strategy to ban natural gas use in all private and public buildings within the City of Vancouver. While the rest of Vancouver’s media just woke up to the story last week, the Duel debated the merits of the natural gas ban last November. Everyone needs to wake up.

Canada’s future is in jeopardy. Government must step in, by stepping out of the market. And by doing what it can to limit the ability of “social licence lunatics” to hijack the environmental assessment and energy regulation processes. Any intervention by government to streamline the regulatory process would be decried as a bailout for the sector. So be it.

Read it in 24hours Vancouver!

Brent Stafford, The Duel – 24hours Vancouver – September 25, 2016.

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