See Comments down arrow

La vie en roses

19 Jun 2024 | News Roundup

A news story out of Quebec, Canada reminds us of G.K. Chesterton’s “cultivated Cockney who said he likes milk out of a clean shop and not a dirty cow” (from Outline of Sanity). Apparently Quebecers want a lot of cheap reliable energy as long as it doesn’t come from a power plant. That there are no cheap and reliable alternatives matters not. The magical thinking goes beyond just electricity though. In the Laurentians region lies a large graphite deposit that an industry consortium proposes to develop to support the electric vehicle industry. Hooray, right? No. Boo! Many locals are opposed “fearing the potential harm to the environment” and because “the Pentagon is involved in the project.” So they want Quebec to shoulder the burden of international defence? Mais non. And how will we provide power? Can we build a gas or oil pipeline? Non. Frack for natural gas in La Belle Province? Non. Construct a nuclear plant? Non. Turn off your power? Mais jamais de la vie!

It is true, of course, that Quebec has been blessed with the sort of geography that allows a lot of hydro power and has exploited it, creating an energy glut that makes them, among other things, just about the world’s leading per capita consumers of backyard swimming pools. But them days is winding down. Indeed entrepreneur Michael Binnion, whose Questerre firm has been buffeted by irrational Quebec energy policy and treated as a villain for trying to help Quebeckers be maitres chez eux, just shared a piece warning that:

“the Québec government is finally acknowledging that the Province is facing an energy shortage, and that the situation is set to worsen over the next few years. This has an impact on sharply rising electricity costs, and on economic development. Unfortunately, Québec has to say no to many projects because of the energy shortage.”

So of course a revamp of energy policy ignores natural gas and nuclear. Voters and politicians have moved to fantasy-land together which, in some sense, we suppose, is a tribute to self-government.

At the same time leaders who lead, and citizens who are not sheep, ought to be having a sensible adult conversation about the fact that virtually all forms of energy have both advantages and drawbacks. Wind and solar seem clean, despite their manufacturing, operational and disposal footprint, but they are unreliable. Nuclear plants are big investments and yes, there is waste (though it’s not the nightmare many insist). Oil and gas are reliable but, some say, spew “carbon pollution”, though better surely methane than coal even from that perspective. There is no free lunch, and no free power either.

Alas, in a world where maturity is associated primarily with sepia-tinted photos of men who did not return from Juno Beach, there is instead an insistence that abundant energy will fall from the sky without anyone dirtying up the ground with generating facilities. And never mind that:

“China is far and away the leader in graphite production. In 2022 Canada was ranked sixth, mining about one per cent of global production; China was at 66 per cent, according to Natural Resources Canada.”

Security too must fall from the sky, gently, but without the pure in spirit doing anything to assist with the actual development of military capabilities. Nor at night lest it disturb our sleep. Or in our backyard. Over there somewhere. Later. Maybe.

One comment on “La vie en roses”

  1. Quebec will just come to Ottawa with cap in hand if said energy shortage comes to pass.Like they always do.A recent YouTube video made clear that
    Quebec does not want to develop their natural resources too much.Because then they would be wealthier by Canada's Equalization standards.Which
    would mean less money transfered from Alberta to Quebec.We're in effect paying Quebec not to work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *