Opinion: Believe it or not, B.C. wants our oil

If you thought British Columbians didn’t want Alberta oil, you’re mistaken.

The B.C. government was in court challenging the right of Alberta to slow down the flow of oil, which is something the Rachel Notley government has asserted it has the right to do.

The case was thrown out of court because Alberta has never exercised such power, but the matter raises growing questions about British Columbians’ credibility.

On one hand, they told the court last week they can’t live without Alberta oil. The B.C. government’s court filings say 55 per cent of its gasoline comes from Alberta, and 71 per cent of its diesel makes the same path westward, much of it through the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The B.C. government admitted its residents would be hard-pressed to replace Alberta as an energy provider, arguing the threat of reducing the supply of oil was unconstitutional.

The affidavit says that “reductions in supply from Alberta will cause shortages in British Columbia and that the result could be increased prices, lack of supply and civil unrest in British Columbia.”

On the other hand, British Columbia wants to limit the flow of oil into the province by vehemently opposing expansion of the same pipeline that has been in operation for more than six decades.

What gall. The province argues it’s entitled to receive our oil, but says it has the right to prevent exports that would add to the wealth of individuals and governments from across the nation.

Can you imagine Alberta arguing in court that it depended on B.C. for a reliable supply of over-priced wine, but that it won’t permit its travel eastward? Just think of the greenhouse gases that are expended sending B.C.’s plonk east of Alberta.

Albertans would never do such a thing, and thankfully, unlike B.C., which admits it depends on our oil, we enjoy a plentiful supply of libations.

British Columbia’s hypocrisy doesn’t end there. One of the two reasons approval of the pipeline expansion was held up in the courts was because of concerns about the impact of tanker traffic on delicate West Coast species.

In redoing its work, the National Energy Board pointed out it’s not just oil tankers that have the potential to compromise the behaviour of orca whales through engine noise: other commercial vessels and ferries pose the same threat.

Such a finding makes sense, of course. What’s the difference between the largest cruise ship on the planet pulling into Vancouver Harbour and a smaller oil tanker safely going about its business?

Whales are smart, but presumably they’re not so intelligent as to be able to discern the difference between the engines of an oil tanker and a 994-foot-long testament to hedonism, featuring a waterpark, a race track, laser tag and a casino.

The difference, of course, is perception — a fairytale view of the world that keeps disingenuous politicians in power and provides plenty of well-paid work for agitators and their lawyers.

The 241 cruise-ship visits Vancouver expected to welcome last year are seen as bolstering B.C.’s image as being more than a place that clear cuts trees and exports coal.

In contrast, the modest number of West Coast oil tanker transfers are viewed by small-minded people as an affront to such a fanciful world.

So yes, British Columbia wants our oil. They just don’t want anyone else to have it, or to admit they depend on fossil fuels just like everyone else in the developed world.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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