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Northern Gateway Pipeline: Alberta Critics Concerned About Jobs, First Nations Rights

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A flurry of criticism has emerged in Alberta after a federal review panel recommended approval for the Northern Gateway pipeline on Thursday.

Critics say the proposed Enbridge pipeline, which would take oil from Alberta to the Pacific to deliver to markets throughout Asia, will take away Canadian jobs. The recommendation for approval prompted several Alberta politicians to speak out about the project's possible repercussions.

"The question for us is not whether or not there are pipelines, but what they carry. And if they are carrying unprocessed bitumen to the United States or China or any other country, they are carrying Alberta jobs with it," said Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason on Thursday.

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The sentiment was echoed by Linda Duncan, MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, who argued the pipeline puts jobs and First Nations rights at risk.

"The Northern Gateway project puts Canadian jobs and our coastline at risk," said Duncan, who is also the federal opposition critic for Western economic diversification.

"[It] flies in the face of federal commitments to change course and finally honour aboriginal right and title, including for First Nations and Metis who are bearing the brunt of the oil sands sector in Alberta," she added.

The 1,200-kilometre pipeline would deliver 525,000 barrels of Alberta oil to a tanker terminal in Kitimat, on the north coast of B.C.

"This is a decision that Canadians will come to regret, and it's a decision that ignores the evidence," said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is a strong supporter of the project and told reporters earlier this week that the line is critical to breaking a bottleneck that is forcing Alberta to ship oil to the United States at discounted prices.

"Opening new markets for our resources is Job 1 for our government and critical to our continued economic success," said Alberta Energy Minister Diana McQueen.

"New markets mean we will receive higher prices for our resources — creating and supporting more jobs, and generating higher royalties and taxes to help pay for the vital public services like quality health care and education that Albertans expect."

A panel reviewing the proposed pipeline recommended approval for the contentious pipeline project with 209 conditions.

Opponents of Northern Gateway said Friday that the war against the pipeline will now be waged against the federal government, who are now in charge of deciding the project's fate.

With files from The Canadian Press

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