In the editorial, “A word from the outpost,” in The Telegram of June 10, the editorial writer (name unknown) chooses to have some fun (he tells us so) at the expense of Globe and Mail columnist Konrad Yakabuski. Surely, the editorial writer must know it is considered a sign of ill breeding to flaunt your wealth — newfound, hard-earned, inherited or otherwise. Jeez, if he travelled at all or opened a paper or magazine, he would know there are enclaves of wealth and power in Toronto, London and Windsor, Ont., where Our Danny, if he moved to one of those cities, would be dimly viewed as an upstart tradesman.
Any student of Canadian history knows the “blame Ottawa” defence was first used by one of the smaller provinces on July 2, 1867. The ink was barely dry on Nova Scotia’s and New Brunswick’s signatures on their terms of union.
Blaming the federal government was a firm fixture of Canada’s narrow politics and shallow heritage long, long prior to the expiration of March 31, 1949 (midnight Ottawa time, one-thirty in the morning St. John’s time) when Newfoundland (and the much coveted coast of Labrador) joined Confederation.
The Globe and Mail columnist was not entirely honest when he wrote that Ontario does not have oil. In 2009, there were 96 commercial oil and gas producers in Ontario. There were 1,200 active oil wells, 1,300 commercial natural gas wells and 500 private gas wells. Five hundred of the gas wells were located offshore on Crown land under Lake Erie. In 2010, there were 13 onshore surface locations in Romney and Colchester townships from which 23 horizontal well bores were drilled and producing oil and gas from under the bed of Lake Erie.
About 50 new oil and gas wells are drilled in southern Ontario each year. Production from Ontario’s reservoirs accounts for roughly one per cent of Ontario’s domestic consumption of crude and two per cent of Ontario’s annual domestic consumption of natural gas. All of Ontario’s crude oil and natural gas production is consumed within Ontario.
Now for some real fun, boys and girls. Editorial writers and newspaper columnists might want to pay attention. How about the Canada/Ontario Offshore Petroleum Board? Have you heard tell of it?
Name the Ontario premier who nearly drove himself and his government around the bend trying to gain the benefits of offshore oil and gas for his province from the federal government of Trudeau, Lalonde and Chretien and the hated National Energy Program. Didn’t Ontario bring its share of Lake Erie’s resources into Confederation?
Name the Ontario premier who ordered the removal of Canada’s flag from provincial buildings and, on returning from the great struggle at Ottawa, with his finance minister not all that far from his right side, then proclaimed, “We got it. We got it.” Perhaps, in denying the existence of an oil and gas industry, Ontario is doing something she learned from Quebec’s hiding the money ill-gained at Churchill Falls from federal revenuers so the province would get a larger equalization cheque from Ottawa.
Have-not status should not cause a province to descend into dishonesty. Poor but proud and scenic worked for this province for 60 years. Try it.