Global TV Noon News aired a report on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline Sunday. It lasted 40-seconds while they allocated 11 minutes to a segment on cooking fish and five for a pet dog. Strange ‘news’ priorities but I guess they could have run a repeat of ET Canada or TMZ. Regardless, the quickie reference to an issue that may ignite cultural and economic warfare included this:
“Enbridge says the project has the potential to add $270 billion to the Canadian economy but environmental groups are concerned about the danger of oil spills.”
To the casual viewer, Global’s brief report might have seemed fairly innocuous, even balanced. It was not.
First, environmental groups are concerned about far more than oil spills. My piece on the effects of First Nations people in Northern Alberta Fort Chip people don’t believe in ‘ethical oil’ makes that clear.
Additionally, tar sands output is known by industrial nations as the world’s dirtiest energy. Its immoderate exploitation demonstrates the Harper Government’s contempt for international responsibility.
Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University classifies Canada among the worst of all nations in taking action and meeting commitments on climate change. Our country ranks far worse than India and Brazil, even worse than Russia.
In the last 15 years, Canada’s federal government has spent more than $7-billion on programs such as:
- Green Plan,
- National Action Program on Climate Change,
- Action Plan,
- Project Green,
- Clean Air Act, and
- Turning the Corner.
Countless words, publications and consultations, all at taxpayer expense, and the primary result is endless hypocrisy and catastrophic mismanagement. The political classes, both Liberal and Conservative, consumed cash without restraint, pretending to be taking direct and mindful action while they were being, as Grandma used to say, “Only busy for the sake of being busy.” Grandma didn’t imagine people doing that while spending billions in public funds.
Hypocrite-in-Chief Stephen Harper said this in the House of Commons,
“In terms of climate change, we are pursuing policies domestically, nationally and internationally. We are working for the creation of an international protocol that will include all major emitters. What this government does not favour [is] a protocol that only controls a little bit of global emissions, not enough to actually make any difference.”
Returning to the Global newscast, consider the statement they read from an Enbridge press release,
“The project has the potential to add $270 billion to the Canadian economy.”
Oh, really? Compared to what?
Canada’s most beneficial course cannot be to allow transport of little processed bitumen to Asia where it will be refined and consumed by Asian industries, employing Asian workers manufacturing finished Asian goods for global markets. Northern Gateway would not only export bitumen, it would export the possibility of jobs doing refining and petrochemical manufacturing, jobs that could be a cornerstone of Canadian industrial expansion.
Enbridge’s claim of abundant financial benefits for Canadians should be a hard sell in British Columbia, where industry and consumers have long benefited from relatively inexpensive energy, thanks to W.A.C. Bennett’s enthusiasm for big hydro projects half a century ago. Bennett wanted industry to bring jobs to where the energy is, not export the resource so people could be employed elsewhere. The old hardware dealer had a canny sense for the future but his was a world before globalization.
In Bennett’s day, the American military and a small group of industrialists wanted to export water, rather than bitumen. The idea was to reroute Canada’s major rivers:
“The centrepiece of the western water corridor flowing from Canada to the U.S. is the North American Water and Power Alliance. NAWAPA was originally designed to bring bulk water from Alaska and northern British Columbia for delivery to 35 U.S. States. By building a series of large dams, the northward flow of the Yukon, Peace, Liard and a host of other rivers [Tanana, Copper, Skeena, Bella Coola, Dean, Chilcotin, and Fraser ] would be reversed to move southward and pumped into the Rocky Mountain Trench where the water would be trapped in a giant reservoir approximately 800 kilometres long. A canal would then be built to take the water southward into Washington state where it would be channeled through existing canals and pipelines to supply freshwater for customers in 35 states. The annual volume of water to be diverted through the NAWAPA project is estimated to be roughly equivalent to the average total yearly discharge of the entire St. Lawrence River system in Canada.”
Had Stephen Harper been Canada’s Prime Minister in the mid 20th century, he would have said NAWAPA is a ‘Great Project’ to maximize revenues from an ample Canadian resource while meeting an urgent need for an important trading partner. Opponents, he would have called short sighted radical environmentalists.