Pipeline infrastructure is a must

The People’s Party of Canada recognizes the economic necessity of pipeline infrastructure between Alberta and the east and west coasts. Our intention is to insure this work is completed and we will invoke section 92(10) of the constitution to make this happen in a timely manner with streamlined approvals. The difficulty in getting to that point has created a myopic view of the energy industry in Canada. As is often the case, Atlantic Canada has flown below the radar and the industry here has, for the most part, been ignored in public discourse. 

As a business owner dealing with a continually aging and declining population, I am no longer prepared to wait for Conservative and Liberal central government solutions to our problems that never come. Here in Atlantic Canada we are open for business. To borrow a phrase from the west, “We want in”.

It is no secret that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM),since its inception in 1995, has been in serious decline. At this point it’s continued viability is in question.

Writing in The News on August 2013, I outlined the urgency of twinning the highway to the CBRM to take advantage of the ongoing and future surge of economic activity in Newfoundland and Labrador. That plea has fallen on deaf ears.

The failure of successive federal and provincial Conservative, Liberal and NDP governments to recognize the importance of that nation building link has helped in the financial decay of that community. Why would there be any expectation of new economic activity if business felt government had given up on the area to the point where a modern transportation link was unnecessary?

The recent drone strikes in Saudi Arabia underline the need for Canada’s total self sufficiency in oil production and refining. The government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently announced their plan to double oil production to 650,000 barrels a day by 2030. The expectation is further proven oil reserves are on the horizon.

First and foremost, we need the construction of a state of the art oil refinery in the CBRM. A refinery that will create similar industrial jobs to what the community has had in the past. It promises to draw back some of the population that has been bled off by the lack of employment opportunities in the community. Tanker traffic would also require dock workers. As oil is loaded directly onto oil tankers on the offshore of Newfoundland, it can be delivered to CBRM with the very minimum of jurisdictional wrangling that has crippled a number of energy developments in the country. 

Although that refinery could be a stand alone proposition it should be built in conjunction with a pipeline to St John, New Brunswick from the CBRM port and continue on to the eastern seaboard of the United States. A branch line to Quebec should also be constructed. A feed-in line from Port Hawkesbury to avoid congestion in the CBRM harbour would likely be a further requirement. Construction of that pipeline would not only provide jobs in the corridor, but in shipyards, machine shops and other spinoff operations.

Eighty five percent of oil tanker traffic in Canada currently occurs on the Atlantic Coast. Routing oil tankers to CBRM and Port Hawkesbury would serve several purposes. It would remove that traffic from sensitive fishing areas in the Bay of Fundy that would suffer catastrophic damage in the event of a spill because of the rapid movement of water in the bay. It would remove some traffic from the St Lawrence River and Bay resulting in the further protection of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

CBRM is the eastern most portion of North America in close proximity to the US Atlantic seaboard. A pipeline extended there would shorten overseas shipping distance as it would to St John and Quebec resulting in significant reductions in the use of fuel.  

From an economic, ecological and environmental viewpoint, this plan would have major positive effects regardless of the oil’s origin in Newfoundland, Europe or the Middle East. At the same time reducing regulatory and environmental hurdles because of narrower geographic jurisdictions. Any expected negative environmental effects of the project could be offset in Nova Scotia by further investment in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Muskrat Falls project.

A regional approach involving the Atlantic provinces is long overdue and reflective of the area’s suitability for further investments beyond these projects. A critical mass of consensus around this approach to regional/rural economic development is essential to attracting the business players necessary to make it a reality. Continued stagnation and decline is not an option. 

Al Muir

People’s Party Of Canada Candidate

Central Nova

Plymouth,

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