PM undermining our regulatory process
Dave Coles09 February 2012
When many thousands of Canadians indicate they are not comfortable with their governments build-a-pipeline-anywhere policies because of job-related economic concerns, energy security, and fears about environmental damage, they are ignored and belittled.
The Harper government has labeled unions, environmentalists and First Nations groups -- and anyone else who has voiced opposition to the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines -- as radical and anti-Canadian.
With his trip to China this week, Prime Minister Harper is now also signaling to the world that Canada's pipeline construction regulatory process, meant to protect the public interest in a more formal way, is a façade.
Oil industry powerbrokers will be part of Prime Minister Harper's entourage while he's in China touting the benefits of proposed pipelines, before the National Energy Board body even gets a chance to hold hearings on Northern Gateway.
Between attempts to belittle the opposition and undermine democratic institutions, the Conservatives are leaving little room for national discussion and debate.
Most Canadians are likely unaware, for example, that the pace and scale of these proposed pipelines is incompatible with even the most conservative notions of sustainable development.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers own research shows that our export capacity will exceed Western Canadian projected production until 2025, and after 2025 Northern Gateway will add significant additional surplus capacity to that created by Keystone XL and Kinder Morgan (TMX).
In the process, the pipeline will cause profound damage to the environment, cost more than 26,000 Canadian jobs, and put Canada's own energy needs at risk.
These are all serious threats to the public interest that should be examined carefully by the NEB, if it is allowed to do the job that its mandate demands.
Our union understands the importance of export markets and the need for pipelines to serve them. We also understand the importance of a healthy oil and gas industry that can provide stable, good jobs for our members, and create wealth for their communities and all Canadians.
We need a policy based on economic stability, job creation, environmental sustainability, and energy security for Canada. Stakeholders - including the oil industry, governments, environmentalists, First Nations groups and labour unions -- to come together and create a sustainable energy policy.
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