The Trudeau Liberals are now proceeding with their pipeline-killing, economy-crushing recipe to landlock future Alberta oilsands development.
Maybe they will wake up to the harm that they’re now engaged in. Fortunately, it’s still not too late on a few key files, including Bill C-48, the proposed tanker ban of Alberta crude oil on the northwest B.C coast.
Federal leaders have certainly heard enough damning testimony about this unnecessary and misguided ban, most recently from former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay and Indigenous leader Stephen Buffalo.
Hall Findlay, who ran to be federal Liberal leader in 2013 and is now CE0 of the Canada West Foundation, lashed out in Ottawa Senate hearings this week at the federal plan which would single out and ban only one kind of oil product, Alberta oilsands crude, from being tanker transported from a Canadian shoreline.
“This is fundamentally unCanadian,” Hall Findlay said of the discriminatory policy.
If the ban goes ahead, it will be OK to tanker American, Saudi, Algerian or Norwegian oil into East Coast ports, and to tanker Newfoundland oil for export, but not Alberta oilsands crude on a key northwest B.C. coast shipping lane. More than 2,500 commercial shipping vessels will use that same B.C. ocean passage each year, and tankers hauling liquefied natural gas won’t be banned. In total, 283 million tonnes of oil will be moved by tanker on Canada’s East Coast this year, with another six million tonnes moved out of the B.C. Lower Mainland, but, again, our federal government would disallow any Alberta crude in this key northwest B.C. shipping lane.
“The bill is frankly unCanadian in clearly favouring some regions over others,” Hall Findlay told the Senate. “It would jeopardize economic activity in one part of the country while ignoring even greater and arguably riskier tanker activity in many other parts of Canada.”
The northwest B.C. coast is indeed beautiful and pristine, Hall Findlay said. Of course, other parts of Canada and around the world, such as the Galapagos Islands, the Salish Sea and Baltic Sea, are also lovely and green, yet Hall Findlay noted that through careful stewardship and strict regulation for these particularly sensitive areas that a way is found to safely allow for oil tanker traffic.
Some First Nations oppose this tanker traffic but Stephen Buffalo, CEO of the Indian Resource Council of Canada, which represents oil and gas concerns of 134 First Nations, told the Senate hearings that the implications of Bill C-48 go far beyond the West Coast First Nations.
Since 2011-12, with the slump in the oil industry, his member communities have seen a 75 per cent drop in revenues, amounting to $18,000 in lost royalties per on-reserve family each year, Buffalo said. Unemployment has shot up. “The loss is too much for many of our communities to bear. We are already facing a lot. As is known and as you see, we are struggling with addictions and depression, and people are losing hope.
“We need more jobs available for our people. We need them to earn good wages — wages that can support their families. Right now, Bill C-48 and other policies threaten all of that for us.”
Shipping experts have assured the Senate that tanking Alberta oil can be safely done in northwest B.C.
Hall Findlay urged the Senate to kill the dubious bill. “Couching this as protecting the coastal environment is ultra selective, hypocritical and frankly an unCanadian effort by an anti-oilsands lobby run amuck.”
Her “unCanadian” remark should be particularly biting. This tanker ban has been pushed hardest by groups funded with tens of millions from U.S. foundations who brag about successfully landlocking the Alberta oilsands. Former leaders of those same green groups became powerful influencers in the Trudeau government.
Alberta Sen. Doug Black believes the arguments against C-48 are so strong that even the Liberal-leaning Senate will vote it down. “It’s such fundamentally bad legislation. It is so discriminatory towards one region of Canada,” Black said.
But we can’t be certain the Liberals won’t proceed, not until C-48 is dead.
I hold out less hope than Black that saner policy will prevail, especially when I recall Quebec Sen. Rosa Galvez’s demonization of the Alberta oilsands at the hearings this week.
“When we fly over the oil patch, it’s a very sad vision,” Galvez said. “It’s a very sad environment. We can smell the petroleum and we can see the land is scorched.”
Galvez essentially repeated one talking point of the U.S.-led “dirty oil” campaign after another. It’s as if her lines were written by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Not good. Hence my pessimism.
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