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With the Conservative government’s approval of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline Tuesday, the spotlight now is on British Columbia — politicians, aboriginals, ordinary citizens — to get on board.
They’re the holdouts in this over-the-top melodrama that’s out of step with the rest of the country’s desire to diversify its export markets and get top value for its resources. It’s particularly out of step with Alberta, which desperately needs passage to the West Coast for its oil, much as B.C. natural gas has for decades traversed Albertan lands on the way to U.S. consumers.
British Columbians, too, need to accept the judgment of Canada’s institutions and trust Canada’s energy sector to deliver on its commitments.
Anything less presents a risk to the province that is more immediate than any risk to the environment of an oil pipeline or tanker rupture — a reputation for B.C. as a rogue jurisdiction where the economy is held hostage by environmentalists and aboriginals who oppose lots and offer little.
British Columbians seem to have forgotten that they courted Northern Gateway in the first place; making claims that Ottawa is imposing this project against their will is dishonest. The cities of Kitimat and Prince Rupert fought over it, back in the days when the North Coast was desperate for jobs and investment because the lumber and fishing industries were on their knees, and the newly elected provincial Liberals were so keen to lure any new business they were even talking about finally allowing offshore drilling.
“We think we are in a more favourable position to export the oil than Prince Rupert,” Richard Wozney, Kitimat’s mayor in 2005, said after playing up to Enbridge the merits of Kitimat as Northern Gateway’s endpoint.
Enbridge took all the steps it needed to get the project off the ground, a journey that has lasted a ridiculously long dozen years and cost $500-million to obtain a permit.
At the 11th hour, Kitimat had second thoughts and voted against Northern Gateway in a plebiscite last April, and Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals are now chasing a new rainbow — liquefied natural gas.
So far, they have failed to nail down a single final investment decision by LNG proponents. But they are sitting on the fence on Northern Gateway, a Canadian project that’s as good as cash in the bank and would be B.C.’s biggest private investment, including $1.2 billion in tax revenue for B.C. and $4.3 billion in labour-related income over the next 30 years.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/06/17/northern-gateway-approval-from-ottawa-now-means-british-columbia-must-get-on-board/?__lsa=6d59-2d4d