Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford have given their conditional approval to Enbridge Pipelines to construct the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Assuming that Enbridge can meet the 209 very stringent conditions, why wouldn’t they?
Given recent events in the Middle East and the United State’s continued delays on granting a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, it is vitally important for Canada to gain West Coast access for Canadian oil products. We know oil and natural gas can be developed and shipped safely; Canadian companies have been doing it for over 60 years.
Opponents of Canada’s oil sands and the various pipeline projects are virtually unanimous in saying the world needs to move immediately to new forms of energy or a “clean energy” future. However, they have never really given Canadians any details on how such a shift would work and these claims are both completely unsupported by any valid scrutiny and totally irrelevant to the debate over the safety of the Northern Gateway project.
Canada is fortunate to have access to a large and wide variety of natural resources the world wants and needs. Northern Gateway, TransMountain Express Keystone XL and Energy East all have something in common: they are designed to bring Canadian oil to those world markets. They also are all critical to the Canadian economy. The development of oil and gas resources has created millions of jobs in this country and generated billions (soon to be trillions) in economic activity. And don’t forget royalties and taxes to our governments, close to $783 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute. That’s a lot of hospitals and schools, doctors, nurses and teachers.
The politically-driven delays in the permitting process for the Keystone XL Pipeline have shown us the vulnerability that total reliance on one market poses for all of us in Canada. The U.S. has been (and will continue to be) a great friend and customer, but the debate over Keystone has shown us it is time to diversify our markets.
Canada is a great country founded on compromise. Compromise has helped us build great projects such as the national railway and St. Lawrence Seaway, which connect this vast nation both internally and to the world. Aboriginal groups have rights and titles that need to be accommodated, the environment needs to be protected, and the project needs to provide economic benefits for the entire nation. We believe Enbridge has shown this project will more than meet those needs and Northern Gateway should be built.