Dear Gretchen

Written by Brenda Schimke

Aside from how truly frightful we should be to realize how vulnerable our essential services are to cyberattacks, there’s a little bit of sweet revenge that comes with the successful attack on America’s Colonial Pipeline. 

Just six days before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unilaterally ordered the shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, which sits at the bottom of the Straits of Mackimac, the United States experienced first hand what a critical pipeline shutdown actually means.

With Colonial supplying 45 per cent of the east coast’s fuel (diesel, petrol, jet fuel), it didn’t take long for long-haul, non-stop flights to stop, gas stations to run out of fuel and producers to lose revenue.

Shutting down Line 5 would have similar consequences. Alberta would lose a market of 540,000 barrels per day, and Ontario, Quebec, Ohio, Pennsylvania and, ironically, Michigan, would suffer extreme propane, jet fuel and petrol shortages.

There is ignorance on both sides.

Gov. Whitmer is an example of those on the far left who naively believe simply turning off the hydrocarbon taps will solve all our global warming problems, when in fact, it’s a decades-long process of energy transformation. It’s those who falsely claim that Line 5 transports diluted bitumen, which is far more damaging when leaks occur in waterways, when it’s always been a pipeline transporting light crude.

Whitmer is as irresponsible as those on the far right who deny man-made climate change or that a warming world isn’t catastrophic.

It highlights the need for politicians to set aside hardened ideological beliefs once elected and look at reality and facts. As a politician, good decisions usually mean both extremes, left and right, are equally mad.

The only Canadian party leader who supported Whitmer was Green Party leader Annamie Paul. Thankfully she represents a very narrow perspective and would never become prime minister.

Prime Minister Trudeau is fighting to reduce carbon emissions. But he’s never said or implied Alberta economy wasn’t extremely important to Canada’s wellbeing; that the oil sands should be shuttered tomorrow; that pipelines aren’t safer than rail and truck transport; or that the oil industry should get out of Canada.

Prime Minister Trudeau did fight for and saved the Trans Mountain pipeline and is fighting in American courts for Line 5, but he also balances hydrocarbon extraction and transportation with environmental regulations. 

More importantly, his government is putting money on the table for brown industries to transition into green industries. He understands hydrocarbons are with us for at least the next 30 years, but also knows the world has a limited window to transform energy production and save the planet for future generations.

Sure, Trudeau didn’t waste financial resources fighting for the Keystone Pipeline after President Biden cancelled it. Everyone, except Premier Kenney, knew it would never go ahead. One had only to look at the little progress made on Keystone during Trump’s four years in office. It simply wasn’t important for America’s energy security.

It’s a good sign, Trudeau’s energy and environment policies have garnered equal anger from both the far right and the far left, so he’s probably doing a decent job.

Whereas, Gov. Whitmer stepped out of her lane. A 1977 Canada-US treaty guarantees the uninterrupted flow of oil and gas through pipelines crossing our international borders. 

She’s seen as a strong supporter of President Biden, yet has put him in an untenable position. Like Trudeau, Biden is on a green path, but that doesn’t mean taking irrational shortcuts, trashing economies and breaking international laws.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.