It sometimes sounds as though pipeline proponents are the true environmentalists among us. Commentary in favour of the pipelines has followed suit with generous explanations of our current needs and the realities of energy consumption. They ask: are opponents of the pipelines in denial about our current reliance on fossil fuels? And if these bleeding hearts do admit that we do need fossil fuels to power our country, are they comfortable importing Saudi oil forever? I believe that such questions willfully miss the point.
The reality is that you can't have a legitimate discussion about the topic of oil without considering the ethics underlying our oil supply. Regardless of branding, ethical sourcing has to be part of the discussion. As a pragmatic environmentalist seeking only to ensure a healthy economy on a healthy planet, I would be remiss if I ignored the topic for such an inane reason.
In the beginning of the 21st century, should Canada, an industrial nation of the G8, have a diversified, knowledge-based economy? Or will we allow ourselves to again become a ''company town," an economic dinosaur at the mercy of the price fluctuations of the market?
Raising the minimum wage, diversifying Alberta's economy and supporting working people have my full support, but I'm sorry Premier Notley, I just can't get behind you on pipelines. New pipelines aren't good for the environment, they aren't good for the climate, and I'm sorry, but they aren't good for working people or good governance, either.
Two degrees is the absolute red line that scientists say the world must not pass if we are to have any chance of stopping a growing climate crisis before it spins beyond our control. The 2-degree mark was only breached temporarily but it is a worrying sign that everyone, especially our elected leaders, need to pay attention to.
Several municipal leaders in the Greater Montreal area have already deemed the pipeline too environmentally risky.
There is a catechism of the fossil fuel industry, with oft-repeated claims that seem by repetition to escape examination. Peter MacKay's recent opinion piece on pipelines was a veritable greatest hits compilation of such claims. He writes that "pipelines are by far the safest means of transporting oil." The first muddying of facts is the notion that we are talking about shipping oil. All the current pipeline proposals, including Energy East, are primarily about shipping unprocessed bitumen. Bitumen is in a pre-crude state and can only be casually referenced as "oil" if one accepted the idea that grain should be referred to as "croissants" when discussing markets.
When Mayor Denis Coderre, the spokeman of the 82 municipalities of Montreal 's Urban Community, said "no" to TransCanada's Energy East pipeline, there was an uproar in Western Canada. Many, including Premier Brad Wall and Rick Mercer made wild accusations, saying this was a national unity question.
When TransCanada first announced its 4400km Energy East pipeline project from Alberta to Saint John, the spin was all about nation-building. This spin is dependent on the idea that Energy East will see crude produced in the Prairies replace so-called foreign imports to Atlantic Canada.
The prime minister's "absolutely" answer in October comes back.