Energy East pipeline needs leadership

Political stripes of any kind do not really bother me. People have their reasons for their leanings, and if they’re willing to stand up for them, all the better. What does bother is blatant hypocrisy.

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Political stripes of any kind do not really bother me. People have their reasons for their leanings, and if they’re willing to stand up for them, all the better.

What does bother is blatant hypocrisy.

When a mayor of a major city in a province that received $9.5 billion in equalization payments last year refuses to let a pipeline pass through his region, asking “What’s in it for us?” well Denis Coderre, you are a giant hypocrite.

You effectively are biting the hand that feeds you.

“TransCanada’s project includes important risks for our environment and too few benefits for our economy,” the Montreal mayor said as he and the leaders of 82 other communities rejected the Energy East pipeline project.

It’s also rich considering he did not see the environmental harm that comes from dumping one third of Montreal’s raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River this past October.

The fact is, the multi-billion dollar pipeline project would create thousands of jobs across the country while being built — something that looks pretty good during a recession — and make the country more self efficient in bringing its resources to the world market.

Coderre cemented his opposition in an op-ed on the weekend, stating:

“In a context where the Earth’s nations are talking about even more restrictive measures to limit (greenhouse gas) emissions, we cannot justify the construction of a pipeline, which also delivers more risks than real profits.”

The reality is, the pipeline is the most environmentally sound and safest option to move oil across the country. The pipeline would move more than one million barrels of heavy oil a day to Atlantic Canada, where it can be shipped out. The other option is the slow process of trucking it to the coast or loading it on a train. It would also lessen our reliance on the U.S. to get our own product to the world.

But why should we expect Quebec to come to any other result while they import most of their oil from staunch environmental and humane countries like Saudi Arabia and Algeria? The Globe and Mail reported in 2013 the province could save up to $3 billion a year by buying Alberta’s oil as opposed to importing it from Europe or Africa.

This is akin to an anti-hunting advocate trying to tear down hunters who hunt for meat when they can just get it from the store like everyone else. I don’t think they really process how that equalization money is made that they so eagerly expect from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But I believe this goes to a larger problem, and that’s leadership on the issue.

We have heard for months that the Alberta NDP government and the federal Liberal government are on the cusp of getting pipelines built that the governing Conservatives never could.

I really must question this now.

U.S. president Barak Obama ended hopes of the Keystone XL pipeline. It was just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it a point of his first phone call to Obama to announce he was pulling our fighter jets out of the fight against ISIS.

In Davos, Switzerland last week at the World Economic Forum, not only was natural resource minister Jim Carr not invited to join the Canadian representatives, Trudeau made this now famous statement: “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources, I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

A diversification of the economy is absolutely needed, especially if we can become greener along the way. It is one of the many reasons the Conservatives in Alberta finally were voted out, because of their seeming refusal to do this. But diversification does not mean turning your back on oil completely.

Unfortunately this whole situation has the possibility of turning into an us-versus-them scenario and further increasing the divide between Eastern and Western Canada, when in times of economic uncertainty we really need to be coming together.

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

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