Does Gary Doer Know Canada Buys $780 Million in Crude Oil from Hugo Chavez Every Year?

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Yesterday, Gary Doer, Canada's Ambassador to the United States, made headlines when he stated that:

“If you ask the question: Do you want your oil from (Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez or (Alberta Premier) Alison Redford, I think I know the answer.”

Doer is making the argument that US President Barack Obama should approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, so America can get its oil from the friendly North, instead of the much maligned Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

What Doer fails to mention, or maybe he just doesn't know, is that the largest import commodity Canada receives from Venezuela is crude oil.

According to a 2011 government report [PDF] on Venezuelan-Canadian trade relations:

“Imports from Venezuela are dominated by crude oil. In 2009, Canadian oil imports [from Venezuela] were valued at $778 million, making up nearly 86% of Canada's total imports from that country.”

A May 2011 Natural Resources Canada report [PDF] notes that Canada imported 33,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Venezuela in 2009. That works out to about 12 million barrels of oil that year. 

While Venezuela has had issues in the past around their oil industry, Canada imports even more oil from countries with much more serious human rights and environmental issues. Canada's largest source of imported crude is Algeria, which has been mired in an armed conflict with Islamist extremists for more than 20 years. Canada also imports oil from Angola, Iraq and Nigeria - all countries that make Venezuela look like paradise. 

Ambassador Doer and the Harper government are working overtime at the moment to convince the U.S. government to green light the Keystone XL pipeline.

This latest Hugo Chavez scare tactic is pretty ridiculous when one considers the fact that Canada is more than happy to receive millions of barrels a year from Hugo Chavez.

An Ambassador's role is typically apolitical, and that is for good reason. An Ambassdor's job is to represent the country, not the Prime Minister and his political party. Making undiplomatic statements to the U.S., our largest trading partner, is what happens when this division between ideology and diplomacy gets blurry, as it appears right now. 

A single pipeline is not worth ruining our relationship with the sleeping giant Canada sits above. It might wake up and realize it's being duped into helping Canada reach the highest bidder on export markets, which will be no help to the U.S. consumer as gas prices will go up for many, contrary to the fictitious story that Gary Doer and the Harper government is feeding the U.S. media. 

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What I'm hearing from you is that Canada should practice what it preaches?

Canada should buy oil from 'ethical' sources.  Preferably, Canada should produce and consumer is own oil.  Neither of which Canada does.

Lastly, Americans should just pony up and PAY MORE for their oil. They should pay what Canada wants so Canadians can make more money off of them.  That is what Canadians really want.  After all this oil is ALL destined for the US.  Just ask any Republican.

Any Americans just turning into this post, the biggest concern in Alberta right now is that you are paying 2/3 the going rate for oil from the oil sands.  Therefore our government is loosing money. That's what's our government is saying here, and this pipeline will allow us to charge you more.

I just enjoy repeating Pro Keystone mantra when it doesn't make any sense.  The contorted convolutions of their stories just keep gyrating in ever more wild circles.

If the oil is for US consumption, then Americans will pay more (bad idea).  If the oil is for export, then why would Americans care? Pick one America.

Even better is that if the oil is destined for export no tax revenue is generated.  (Those refineries are in tax free zones… if its exported, the US charges no tax, but gets the jobs, or so the story goes.)  Soo… Why should Americans get upset that its not being refined?  Its not like refineries generate jobs or much tax revenue during operation.

The Keystone won't generate much in the way of jobs or income.  (According to the oil and gas industry in Canada, the Northern Gateway won't generate much more than $50 million a year in tax revenue.  Keystone would be a drop in the bucket by US standards.)

In reality I think that the solution for Canada's energy and refining, etc is more complicated.  It makes no sense to do it all ourselves since it costs a ton build new refineries and pipes.  It makes more sense to do what the industry is trying to do.  IMHO

Personally, I feel that I'm OK with pipes and refineries as long as a whopping Carbon Tax is in place.  Preferably something that taxes imports and exports.

Climate Change must be dealt with. And right now, the industry is protecting itself to the point where its position will become untenable.

There is a striking similarity between Oil and Gas's position and Unions.  Unions protect jobs no matter what.  Even as the world moves on, the union protects its outdated workers because that is what they do.  Eventually their position becomes untenable and they are wholesale tossed out.

That happened in BC, the Provincial Employees Union protected call center jobs to the bitter end.  Even though the rest of the world had moved on to touch tone automated attendants.  When those workers had to be let go, A) They had been de-skilled and were unsuitable for work in the real world, and B) they had been laid off on mass so they had to compete with one another in a world that did not want them.

That in large part is where North America is headed.  We're exporting know how for green technologies because we are not adopting them.  (Therefore we will have to import it later on.)  We are going to have a huge part of our economy severely damaged because so many of us are directly or indirectly tied up in the industry.

(Sorry for such a long rant.)

Canada should start producing oil for Canada, not selling off this resource to foreign markets. Slow down production and start making this massive resource work for Canadian, not Petro China, ExxonMobil, BP and the Koch Brothers.

Some of the tar sands oil does go for domestic consumption, just not very much. And under NAFTA, we have to keep supplying the US with the same amount of oil we are now.

Canada also imports oil from Saudi Arabia and Algeria. Chavez isn't the worst dictator in the world. Venezuela is probably more democratic than any of the Mid-East OPEC nations. Considering the way oil is produced, by who, in which countries, at what cost, by corrupt oil companies, and all the big investment deals needed to fund the projects, and the ruthless and vociferous interests involved, I doubt there is any oil produced by any country which could be considered “ethical”.

Someone needs to tell Ezra Levant how much oil we import from all those “evil” countries.