Lionel Railton – IUOE Canadian Regional Director

The People’s Pipeline – Canadian Oil Means a More Equal Society

Canada is a fortunate place – it’s peaceful and prosperous, blessed with tremendous natural resources.

Thanks to the victories of unionists before us, we also have a strong labour movement, and through that, a strong middle class – the foundation of our common prosperity. In Canada, we’ve worked out a deal: a worker can arrive at a safe worksite, work hard, and get paid fairly for their contribution to our society.

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This deal means that our country’s natural resources mean wealth for everyone, not just a privileged few.

We are fortunate in Canada. Others are not so fortunate.

In many other places, similarly blessed with energy resources, corruption and cronyism mean that the prosperity that should be shared widely is instead hoarded at the top:

Russia

Russia’s state-owned oil company, Rosneft, is presently headed up by Igor Sechin, widely perceived as the second most powerful figure in Russia, and Vladimir Putin’s #2 man.

The Executive Chairman, he is worth billions, and is sanctioned by the United States for Russia’s interference in neighbouring countries.

Brazil

Brazil also has a state-owned energy company – Petrobras. Unlike Russia, it’s not the personal tool of powerful government figures – instead, it corrupts the government. It has been involved in not one but two corruption scandals, where they used their tremendous wealth to pay out nearly $3 billion in bribes, including yachts, helicopters, prostitutes and $3,000 bottles of wine.

This corruption comes at a cost – and the cost is borne out by Petrobras’ workers. The company was rocked by labour strife throughout 2017, as employees across the nation fought against removal of basic benefits and a tiny salary increase.

Venezuela

Venezuela’s government claims to be on the side of workers. But their state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, is deeply corrupt, run by incompetent cronies of Nicolas Maduro.

This cronyism would be costly – the Venezuelan National Assembly estimated in 2017 that the government had embezzled $11 billion.

As always, the cost was borne by the company’s workers. In early 2018, they are suffering along with their country, as they pass out on their rigs from malnutrition.

In Canada, collective bargaining is a constitutional right, and we live under the rule of law.

Canadian oil means prosperous workers and a prosperous country.

The construction of a new Canadian pipeline means more money for workers – and less for corrupt oligarchs.

Lionel Railton – IUOE Canadian Regional Director