Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Go-Ahead for Pipeline Gridlock

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Go-Ahead for Pipeline Gridlock

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Go-ahead for pipeline gridlock


An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published June 18:

It's no surprise that Ottawa has green-lighted the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and senior ministers have been saying for years it's a national priority to create an outlet for western oil to reach Asian markets.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who has gone overboard in attacking pipeline opponents as American-funded radicals, even raised the spectre last week of an existential crisis. Canada, he said, faces a "stark" choice between "moving resources to tidewater" or heading "down the path of economic decline, higher unemployment, limited funds for social programs."

So it would have been astonishing if Ottawa had said no to Enbridge's $7-billion Northern Gateway, particularly after telling Washington it wouldn't accept no on the Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Harper would have looked foolish (as the Liberals do in their pro-XL, anti-Gateway policy) if he badgered the U.S. to do what Canada wouldn't.

But neither is it surprising that Northern Gateway's opponents are saying it's still a pipe dream that won't be built. Besides the 209 conditions placed on the project by a National Energy Board panel (and kept in place by Ottawa) and the five conditions B.C. has set for its approval, the project is unpopular in B.C. and faces a raft of lawsuits from environmentalists and many of the 50 First Nations whose territory the line would cross.

At the very least, the project faces years of delay in the courts. But, again, this is not news. Negotiation and/or litigation are part of the business process of a project like this. Until deals are reached or suits resolved, even an approved project has to sit in gridlock.

But it would not be credible if the regulatory, legal and political process ended in the extreme conclusion that there is no safe or acceptable way to export western oil from a port anywhere on the B. …

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