Alberta Premier Alison Redford doesn’t seem to understand what the fuss is about.
She has been feuding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark over the Northern Gateway pipeline, ever since Clark suggested that B.C. does not get enough benefits from a pipeline which would be operated by a company with a spotty safety record in recent years.
In addition, the pipeline would traverse many environmentally sensitive areas and would supply tankers which would travel along B.C.’s northern coast — which means additional risks to B.C.
Redford was in Vancouver on Tuesday and reiterated that she doesn’t plan to share any of Alberta’s oil wealth with B.C. She added that there needs to be a national energy strategy — something which seems a bit odd coming from Alberta, given its white-hot hatred of the National Energy Program 30 years ago.
Redford’s position on sharing energy royalties isn’t unreasonable. B.C. doesn’t share resource revenues with Alberta, or any other province for that matter.
But Redford doesn’t seem to fully comprehend that B.C. is taking the major portion of the risk that this pipeline will bring, with little to show for it. Yes, it would be good to have additional markets for oil. At the same time, Canadians (including Albertans) need to ask what value there is, in the long term, in shipping vast quantities of raw materials overseas.
It’s the same question many Vancouver Islanders ask about the continued shipment of raw logs to China. The export of logs creates a few jobs, but most of the added value from the product is gained in China — not in B.C. This doesn’t seem like a good way to boost the B.C. economy.
Redford and her fellow oil barons need to understand a few facts about B.C. First and foremost, almost all First Nations along the proposed route oppose this pipeline. They have sufficient legal rights to tie up this project indefinitely in court, if not stop it entirely.
Second, B.C. residents do not oppose exports. Ports provide many good jobs here. But they, like most Canadians, also value the environment. B.C.’s environment is a major attraction to many of us, and a big oil spill would be completely unacceptable.
Redford needs to be just a little less hard-nosed and more understanding of her neighbours. We should be co-operating, not feuding.