With the 42nd federal election in the books here in Canada, now the clock starts ticking down the 42 days until the Paris climate talks begin. The good news is that Stephen Harper is no longer the Prime Minister of Canada. After nearly a decade in power, Harper has left a sea of devastation in his wake when it comes to climate change. Here's the bad news: while Stephen Harper's government may have been a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, Justin Trudeau has failed to distinguish himself as a much better option.
Extreme weather conditions, storms, flooding, droughts and ice melting are the new reality in too many parts of the world. People are losing their livelihood, their homes, their jobs -- and even their lives. While scientists and faith leaders call for urgent action, our political leaders have failed to take necessary actions.
Just about every aspect of our lives involves a certain amount of risk, of course. It's all about risk management. And indeed, despite the occasional high-profile accident like last week's spill in California, pipelines in general remain very safe. One realistic alternative to transporting Canadian oil by pipeline is transporting that same oil by train or by truck. Yet both of these methods of transport are less safe than pipelines. Logically, then, we should transport as much oil as we can by pipe, and as little as possible by rail or road.
The University of Calgary's School of Public Policy has put out an important report that sheds light on an under-discussed dimension of Canada's energy export challenge: the time factor. At this point, most people (we hope) are aware that Canada faces physical bottlenecks in the transport of its energy resources to global markets.
Anyone claiming this pipeline is a done deal is ignoring the fact that Enbridge faces a major uphill battle. The federal government's approval of the pipeline was likely the easiest hurdle that Enbridge had to jump. The Harper government and Big Oil are looking East because they think it is an easier road to tar sands expansion than the road to the West. We can turn this project that Stephen Harper calls a "nation builder" into a movement builder. Energy East, its review and Harper's pipeline plans need a People's Intervention. Now it's our chance to give it to them. It is easy to approve a pipeline, but a whole lot harder to build one.
We are mystified that with so much at stake, with the risks of this project being so high, the board would quibble over nine days. We would have expected the board to err on the side of good process and give Kinder Morgan the extra time to answer the questions that have been asked by municipalities, landowners, local businesses, First Nations and environmental organizations.