This article originally appeared in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article.
By Philip Cross, December 1, 2023
It will surprise most Canadians to learn that GDP from oil and gas extraction has risen twice as fast under Justin Trudeau as during Stephen Harper’s time as prime minister. Similarly, U.S. oil and gas production has fared better under Joe Biden than it did under Donald Trump — despite Biden’s vaunted mega-spending on green energy. In a rarity for politicians, you don’t hear either Trudeau or Biden boasting about record output on their watch: growing fossil fuels production contradicts the environmental story they tell their respective bases.
But the data are clear. Statcan’s GDP series (see chart) show that oil and gas extraction rose 24.8 per cent in the first seven years and 10 months of the Trudeau era versus 15.4 per cent in the nine years, eight months Harper held office. The average monthly gain, which adjusts for Harper’s longer tenure, works out to 0.26 per cent for Trudeau versus 0.13 per cent for Harper — exactly twice as much. This divergence is even more surprising when you recall that oil prices were much more buoyant for most of Harper’s time in office than Trudeau’s.
Under Trudeau, oil and gas extraction has outpaced the overall economy, although partly because the economy has grown only an anemic 14.4 per cent on his watch. In the Harper years, oil and gas slightly lagged overall economic growth. What really changed under Harper was a doubling of oilsands production. The lower price for oilsands bitumen dampened the GDP earned from oil, even as the number of barrels produced increased.
In the Trudeau years, by contrast, oilsands growth slowed markedly while conventional oil and gas output accelerated. Alberta’s complaints about Trudeau’s policies hampering the oil sands are fully justified. But oil and gas output has been allowed to surge in Newfoundland & Labrador (which happens to have a Liberal government) and British Columbia (currently run by the NDP).