As expected, environmentalists and assorted naysayers and hangers-on are giving TransCanada's $15.7-billion, 4,600km Energy East pipeline project a rough ride in Quebec. After holding four sessions in New Brunswick without a major incident, the National Energy Board’s (NEB) environmental assessment panel moved to Montreal for several more days of hearings.
On Monday, the NEB cancelled the first of those sessions before it even began, and the police made three arrests. Later, the NEB said in a statement that it would also postpone Tuesday's session because of the “violent disruption" that “threatened the security of everyone involved in the panel session."
The proposed pipeline would deliver 1.1-million barrels per day of Western crude and diluted bitumen from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Eastern refineries and a New Brunswick export terminal.
The pipeline capacity is estimated to be equal to 1,570 oil tankers per day crossing Canada by rail. Without this oil Canada will continue to import 50 per cent of its oil from countries like the U.S., Venezuela, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Moreover, The Conference Board of Canada estimates the project will add $16.8 billion in additional GDP for the Canadian economy during the nine-year development and construction phase and nearly $39 billion during the first 20 years of operations. [Source]
All told the Montreal protest was not one of Canada’s proudest moments. Don’t be misled: this is not democracy in action with peaceful grassroots protests keeping “the man” from putting one over on us ordinary folk. These protesters have powerful, well-financed forces with their own selfish agendas backing them up. And none of these agendas have Canada’s economic—or even environmental—wellbeing as a priority.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, along with the mayor of Laval and other local mayors and municipal representatives oppose the pipeline, as do chiefs and elders from three Mohawk communities. These Mohawks were due to appear Monday, but now say they are unsure of further participation in rescheduled hearings.
Something Quebecers and Aboriginals have in common: they receive billions from the federal government. And those dollars come from our hard-earned tax money that will be a lot harder to earn if more pipelines are not built. Quebec receives about $10-billion of the $18-billion in federal equalization payments. Aboriginals receive a similar amount from federal government coffers, a lot of which is spent on Status Indians, who are not obliged to contribute anything in the way of taxes on incomes earned on reserves.
In other words, Quebecers and Aboriginals get their handouts regardless of whether or not pipelines are built and the resulting economic benefits are realized. The rest of us ordinary folk depend on building out Canada’s infrastructure, adding jobs to the economy, increasing GDP, and other mundane stuff.
Canadian environmentalists, including the David Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace Canada, also oppose the project. But they are not alone for, most troubling of all, U.S.-based special interests—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club—have joined the opposition, each with annual budgets in excess of $100-million USD.
The National Resource Defense Council has launched a petition against Energy East and hopes to exert the same sort of pressure it did on the feckless U.S. President Barack Obama, forcing him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline for crass political purposes.
U.S. opposition so narrowly targets Canada’s ability to get its oil products to non-U.S. international markets, it makes me question their true motives. For example, why is Venezuela—which holds the world's largest reserves of heavy oil that is very comparable to the oil produced in Alberta—not targeted nearly to the extent Canada is?
Why the witch-hunt? Why is it so important for U.S. environmentalists and their country’s president to block Canadian oil from reaching non-U.S. markets?
Perhaps it is the heavy discount at which Americans buy Canadian oil when we cannot sell it elsewhere. Or maybe it simply because they can bully us instead of targeting their own politically-powerful carbon-based energy sector.
Whatever their motives, they have a very good chance that they will succeed in continuing to embargo Canadian oil and we will all suffer the economic consequences while Prime Minister Trudeau and his minions dance to the environmentalists’ tune and play the role of useful idiots.