A pipe dream

Our MP’s defence of the proposed pipeline carrying tar sands crude from Alberta to Kitimat; “A pipeline to well-being”, Jan. 28, is a pipe-dream of misconceptions. He says 260,000 jobs are tied to the oil sands. Canadians are more concerned that 600,000 jobs have vanished from Canadian manufacturing since 2003, while his government has subsidized tar sands expansion at taxpayer expense.

Our MP fails to recognize that those subsidized jobs also depend on high fuel prices paid by consumers. Tar sand jobs concentrated in one industry, in one region, are causing immense social and economic imbalances, while other regions of Canada suffer extreme unemployment. These jobs too will die as the pipeline drains the oily sands.

And they are wrecking the greatest manmade ecological disaster and threat to civilization the world has ever seen. This is a route to well-being?

He claims our economy would benefit from jobs building the pipeline, “as private capital creates wealth for Canada”. According to the Enbridge FAQ website, that’s about 5,500 person/years or 1,800 annual jobs for three years. Then what?  After a brief salary, workers get the boot. The pipeline exports crude to fuel the workforce of foreign manufacturers. Companies rakes in royalties for years, while paying the lowest taxes in recent history, if Conservatives succeed with their current proposal for corporate tax cuts. The company estimates total local, provincial and federal tax revenues at $2.6 billion over 30 years.

That’s half  the annual cost it will take to operate the additional prison cells Conservatives want to build at a cost of $3 billion right now! No wealth for Canada in these equations.

Canadian economic well-being would benefit across many regions and sectors if government subsidized a trans-Canada electrical power grid tying regions together with distributed alternative energy sources. This would create high paying, long term manufacturing jobs and clean energy. Economists warn that tar sands expansion has created severe distortion and a lack of economic diversification.  Scientists warn it is bad for local environments and a disaster for global climate on which all sustenance depends.

Canada has the second highest percentage of low-paying jobs in 34 OECD countries. Instead of falling for the pipe-dream bringing a plethora of oil tankers to the west coast, let’s build a co-ordinated domestic energy and industrial policy to ensure the long term well-being of all Canadians.

Greig Crockett