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Financier predicts new respect for oilpatch as Canada recovers from pandemic

Last Updated Apr 8, 2020 at 3:28 pm EDT

A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Calgary energy financier Mac Van Wielingen says there's an opportunity for the oil and gas sector to regain public and government trust as Canada tries to restore its economy after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary energy investor Mac Van Wielingen says there’s an opportunity for the oil and gas sector to regain public and government respect when Canada tries to restore its economy after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The co-founder of ARC Financial Corp. says the industry has suffered through six years of slow crisis started when global oil prices tumbled in 2014 and made worse by national policies that show “sometimes hellish hostility” toward the fossil fuel industry.

Van Wielingen predicts there will be “more realism and pragmatism” in Canadian attitudes toward the oil and gas sector in future because of the economic damage the pandemic has caused, making the points in a keynote speech on the webcast Scotiabank Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Energy Symposium.

He says that the country’s priorities should be reordered to recognize the enormous contribution of the energy sector.

He adds the country must turn away from policies that have prevented pipeline construction, fostered “deep alienation” in the West and hurt investment, competitiveness and productivity in Canada.

Van Wielingen was named last month to a high-profile panel advising the Alberta government on how to spur economic recovery in view of low oil prices.

“We’ve been through now about six years of difficult markets and what seemed like interminable —sometimes hellish — hostility and resistance to our industry,” he said at the conference.

“What is different now is that Canadians are going to see and experience extremely difficult conditions in all respects within Canada, including skyrocketing national and provincial deficits.

“There’s no question in my mind it’s going to force more realism, more pragmatism, and a reordering of our central priorities. Exactly to what extent, we’ll have to see.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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