Alberta needs to earn national support for oil sands – Toronto Star Editorial (Toronto Star – March 1, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Ontario gets such substantial benefits from the oil sands that we should all be advocates for their speedy development. That’s Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s view of the world. Premier Dalton McGuinty’s version is that Ontarians would be better off without the high “petro dollar” that hurts our manufacturing sector.

It’s a she-said, he-said that has pundits across the nation weighing in on everything from the merits of the oil sands to the supposedly pathetic state of Ontario’s economy.

McGuinty has acknowledged that he should have “self-edited.” There was no benefit to sounding ungracious about Alberta’s success or defensive about Ontario’s economic challenges. But the premier was not wrong to make clear the Ontario perspective on Redford’s demand that everyone jump onboard the oil sands train.

The facts are irrefutable: the vast majority – an estimated 94 per cent – of economic benefits from the oil sands remain in Alberta. The booming oil and gas sector has contributed mightily to the high Canadian dollar. That has damaged Ontario’s traditional strength in manufacturing.

It’s been estimated that Ontario could gain 65,000 oil-sands related jobs – over 25 years. That’s 2,600 a year. Every new job is a good thing, but let’s keep this in context. Ontario’s auto sector employs 400,000 people, the IT sector more than 270,000 and bio-tech involves some 43,000 jobs.

Alberta’s oil sands are not going to be what boosts Ontario’s economy out of its doldrums. Nor, for that matter, will bemoaning the high Canadian dollar.

McGuinty has said he was surprised by the backlash to his comments, but it’s hard to see why. Resenting Ontario (and Toronto, in particular) is almost a national pastime. Of late, that has grown into a distasteful glee over the province’s struggles.

The “economic envy of Canada” has fallen to the “gutter of unemployment,” penned one Calgary columnist. “The Ontario premier is biting the hand currently feeding his have-not province.”
 
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website:
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1138873–alberta-needs-to-earn-national-support-for-oil-sands

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