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NEWS: Alberta finance minister says Enbridge pipeline needed to address Canada’s fiscal deficit

Lloyd Snelgrove

Lloyd Snelgrove

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “If Ottawa is serious about eliminating the $34.4-billion federal budget deficit, it’s time for the feds to step up to the plate and help ‘grow the economic pie’ by backing oilsands exports to Asia. In particular, says Alberta Finance and Enterprise Minister Lloyd Snelgrove, Ottawa needs to throw its weight behind Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline to the West Coast or risk losing out on billions of dollars of future investment and tax revenue.”

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen a day through a 1,200 kilometre pipeline across a thousand rivers and streams to Kitimat, British Columbia, where much of it would be taken by 225 super tankers a year through the narrow Douglas Channel and then across the Pacific Ocean to Asian markets.

The newspaper report continues, “With a Tory majority in Ottawa, he says the province expected the feds to clearly express support for Enbridge’s embattled pipeline project, which is opposed by B.C. environmentalists and First Nations. But so far, that hasn’t happened. …'(Canada’s) economy is still in a very fragile place, and we see the Americans doing contortions around what they’ve got to do (to cut the massive U.S. budget deficit). The one thing we’ve got in Canada that’s going to make a difference is the oilsands,’ he says.”

“Snelgrove’s comments, made in an interview, echo those of Suncor Energy CEO Rick George, Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert and Western Canada’s premiers, who met last week in Yellowknife. In a joint statement, the premiers backed Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach’s call for speedy development of roads, ports, pipelines and policies that will boost exports to Asia. They called for ‘timely approval’ of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline to Kitimat, on the B.C. coast. The National Energy Board is slated to begin hearings on the project in January. B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who is expected to face a provincial election this fall, was a conspicuous holdout, however. Clark says she won’t take a position on the Enbridge project until an environmental review is completed, a process that could take years.”

This month, NDP Fisheries and Oceans critic Fin Donnelly introduced C-211, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against oil tankers in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound), into the House of Commons. If passed, the bill would effectively kill the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Council of Canadians has been actively opposing the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which if approved would be in operation sometime in 2015.