Energy prices have been in the spotlight this week in light of the most recent OPEC+ standoff, but at least one prominent Canadian portfolio manager still isn’t touching stocks in the sector.

“Canada is hostile to oil right now,” said Brian Madden, senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel, in a broadcast interview.

“Oil, especially exploration and production, is not the must-own sector of the Toronto Stock Exchange that it used to be. The sector is a shadow of its former self.”

When asked for his views on Cenovus Energy Inc., Madden said he wouldn’t buy it and that Goodreid doesn’t own any Canadian oil producers.

He said the climate is unfriendly to Canadian investors right now, pointing to carbon taxes, the difficulty of getting pipelines built, as well as the country’s “tone” on the green economy.

“Furthermore, there’s the rise in ESG (environment, social and governance) investing which is increasingly costing companies capital, and compressing their valuation,” Madden said.

“This is not a knock on Canada; more so the oil patch in general,” he added, saying there are no energy producers in Goodreid’s U.S. portfolio either. “But Canada has probably got all that [activism against oil companies] and more on steroids given the political climate here.”

Madden’s comments come amid a volatile few days for oil prices after this week’s OPEC+ meeting was called off, leaving investors guessing on global output and demand. On Tuesday, benchmark West Texas Intermediate briefly climbed to its highest level since 2014, at nearly US$77 a barrel.

“Unless we think the commodity is going back to US$150 a barrel again, which we don’t, we think we’re kind of at the top of the trading range bounded by $40 on the low end and $80 on the high end.” said Madden.

“The direction of the commodity tells you 95 per cent of everything you need to know about the direction of the stock price for these producers.”