Oil and Gas Policy in Canada, 1947–80

Federal and provincial governments have regulated, taxed and controlled the development of Canada’s oil industry for much of its history. Governments have been particularly active in these capacities since it became clear, in the late 1940s, that Canada could become an exporting nation. From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, the federal government increased its role in an effort to help develop the oil industry. From 1973 until the early 1980s, the federal government also worked to end Canada’s dependence on foreign oil.

Federal and provincial governments have regulated, taxed and controlled the development of Canada’s oil industry for much of its history. Governments have been particularly active in these capacities since it became clear, in the late 1940s, that Canada could become an exporting nation. From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, the federal government increased its role in an effort to help develop the oil industry. From 1973 until the early 1980s, the federal government also worked to end Canada’s dependence on foreign oil.


Key Terms

Price controls Restrictions that a government sets on the price of specific goods. Price controls are usually a short-term measure to control the affordability of the goods.

Context

The oil industry in Canada has been subject to government regulation for nearly its entire existence. The Leduc discoveryof 1947 showed — for the first time — the extent and value of Western Canadian oil and gas resources. The Canadian oil and gas industry grew rapidly from 1947 to 1973.During that time, the international price of oil was low and remained stable. The world market was filled with cheap, reliable oil from the Middle East and North Africa. However, demand for this oil was always higher than supply. Federal governmenttax and trade policies therefore encouraged the development of local sources.

Leduc oil discovery