B.C.’s pipeline opposition is narcissistic nonsense
Do most British Columbians see themselves as Canadians? On current evidence, the answer must be no.
This is demonstrated by the unyielding environmentalist opposition to any pipelines carrying Alberta oil or gas across B.C. to tidewater. The opponents’ only evident concern is in preserving “Beautiful British Columbia.”
Search all the B.C. commentary about this issue and you will not find one comment where the naysayers give any consideration to the implications for Canada, let alone for our Alberta neighbours, in their rejection of trans-provincial pipelines. Not even from the government of British Columbia.
The new coalition government is among the most hard-line opponents, campaigning to “use every tool in the toolbox” to block Kinder Morgan’s $7.4-billion pipeline expansion.
Since the election in May, Premier John Horgan has repeatedly declared that the federally approved twinning of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline, and tripling of tanker traffic in coastal waters, is “not in B.C.’s best interests.” His government has engaged external counsel to join a legal challenge to the expansion.
The B.C. government is behaving like an unfriendly foreign state. As a native British Columbian, I’m embarrassed and appalled at the narrow-minded isolationism that pervades public life in this narcissistic province. We’re all Canadians here and we should be working together to solve our problems, not just defend what we perceive as our provincial “interests.”
The responsible exploitation of Alberta’s oilsands is very much in the interest of all of us. Alberta oil production is already a major driver of Canadian prosperity and contributor to tax revenues.
The contribution would be greater in future if Alberta were able to break free from its sole market, the United States, and ship its oil to other countries, especially in Asia, where much higher prices can be gained.
This means nothing to the current B.C. government, which is dead-set on blocking its land-locked neighbour from achieving a higher return from its most important resource by denying it access to Canada’s biggest west coast port, supposedly to defend the environment.
The response from Albertans has been amazingly moderate. It’s doubtful the B.C. response would be so mild if Alberta threatened to block shipments of our softwood lumber.
This Thursday, in a major speech in Vancouver, Premier Rachel Notley will make a case for why B.C. should change course. I hope she calls British Columbia out on its lack of concern for Canada’s interests.
But her words are not likely to change that indifference. B.C.’s green zealots show no concern for the economy, jobs and the development of their country.
The intense anti-pipeline campaign waged since before the May election has been marked by fear-mongering emotion, propaganda and a crass play for green votes. There’s not been much discussion of facts.
Instead, the NDP the Green Party and their supporters have given a doomsday aura to the struggle, that to yield is to accept environmental catastrophe. They claim that the National Energy Board’s review is fatally flawed, having failed to adequately consider B.C.’s environmental risk. They maintain the economic benefits (to B.C.) are not enough to warrant the environmental risk.
And they assert that Kinder Morgan’s tripling of oil tanker traffic through the port of Vancouver will inevitably lead to a massive marine environmental disaster. This despite the fact that tankers (30 to 50 a year) have been visiting Vancouver for 60 years without any major oil spills, and despite the fact that other major ports deal safely with much more tanker traffic, such as Rotterdam (8,200) and Singapore (22,200).
In its 600-page report, the National Energy Board concluded that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the public interest and should be allowed to go ahead, providing 157 conditions are met.
It looks like Trudeau will have to exert federal authority over the economy to make the new pipeline a reality.
Too much is at stake for Canada to allow the project to be strangled by one province’s opposition.