Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver warned earlier this week the window of
opportunity to develop its energy is in danger of closing if action is not taken soon.
It’s a warning that should not go unheeded, but without every province and territory on board, Oliver’s words may sadly come to fruition.
Currently, Canada isn’t getting the biggest bang for its oil because of its inability to get enough of it to the overseas market via coastal ports. Three proposed projects are attempting to fix this problem by expanding or creating new pipelines.
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal, a $6.6-billion project, aims to move bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat; Kinder Morgan hopes to double its capacity to move oil to the coast through its TransMountain Pipeline, a $5.4-billion project; and the newly-proposed $12-billion Energy East pipeline by TransCanada Corp. plans to carry crude oil to the East Coast.
These are major projects that would create tremendous wealth for Canada and, if all environmental assessments come out favourably, should get approval.
One worries, however, that complaints by B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Ontario Energy
Minister Bob Chiarelli that those provinces aren’t getting a fair share of oil royalties will cause unnecessary holdups.
Clark has even made the issue one of her five conditions for endorsing heavy-oil projects.
Not to be outdone, Chiarelli said he wants Ontario to get its cut from the proposed Energy East pipeline.
What both politicians fail to understand is that while Alberta benefits a great deal from oilsands development, the rest of Canada also gains from energy exports through equalization payments. It’s a fact that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall couldn’t help but raise when Chiarelli’s comments came to light last week.
“We’ve never asked for our cut of the Ontario taxes that are derived from those (Ontario-made) cars that go through (Saskatchewan), and neither would we.”
The approval of these pipeline projects should depend solely on the environment and their
impact on communities, not on politicians hoping to win points from the electorate.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.