An Open Letter to Canadian Minister of Natural Resources,
The Honourable Jim Carr,
“ That, given the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest, will create jobs and provide provinces with access to global markets, the House call on the Prime Minister to prioritize the construction of the federally-approved Trans Mountain Expansion Project by taking immediate action, using all tools available; to establish certainty for the project, and to mitigate damage from the current interprovincial trade dispute, tabling his plan in the House no later than noon on Thursday, February 15, 2018.”
During a speech you made in the House of Commons on Monday 12th February 2018 concerning the above Conservative motion on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipe Line you said this and I quote from Hansard and make some comments in italics after the statement:
“…….The project represents a $7.4 billion investment and thousands of good, middle-class jobs, a project that stands to benefit Canadians across the country, just as the existing pipeline has done since 1953, creating new access for Canadian oil to global markets and world prices.”
It pains me to have to remind MPs, especially Ministers who should know better, that the goop to travel through this pipeline IS NOT OIL. It is something called Dilbit – diluted bitumen or diluted tar – from the Alberta Tar Sands. Once again, I remind you of Article 605 of NAFTA which does not allow us to decrease the percentage of our bitumen production to be exported to the USA or Mexico, and as Rachel Notley stated in November to the Economic Club of Canada, the USA is a monopoly purchaser – which means that they take 100% of our bitumen. How then are you going to export even I barrel of dilbit anywhere else, even to Mexico, without causing the USA to take us to a NAFTA tribunal for breaking Article 605? Are you in essence saying that the benefits that Alberta might accrue by this ‘illegal’ exporting will outweigh the price the whole of Canada will have to pay for that inevitable tribunal fine? How can you with a straight face say that this fine will be good for Canada? By the way it is also estimated that after the line is built there will be 40 full-time jobs in BC, so where will the rest of the “thousands of good jobs” be? Unwelcome memories of Joe Oliver and his promise of ‘hundreds of thousands of jobs’ from Northern Gateway come flooding back.
“We understand that one of the biggest concerns on everyone’s mind is the potential oil spill. We share that concern, which is why we have developed a plan that puts in place every safeguard against a spill happening in the first place.
Through the oceans protection plan, the Canadian Coast Guard now has more people, more authority, and more equipment to do its vital and necessary work. For the first time, two large tow vessels will be on call on the B.C. coast. Several Coast Guard vessels will be equipped with specialized toe kits to improve capacity to respond quickly. Primary environmental response teams, composed of specially trained personnel, will further strengthen the Coast Guard’s existing on-scene operations.”
This may be the case for an oil spill, but again this is not oil so do you really believe this for bitumen? You claim that the Coast Guard will have a greater capacity to tow damaged vessels should a collision happen, but make absolutely no mention of how the bitumen will be cleaned from the floors of the Georgia Strait or the Strait of Juan da Fuca You do not even mention that as it is not oil but heavier than water tar it will sink to the bottom, and that the dilutant consists of toxic gasses which will be released into the atmosphere. Depending on the winds at the time, and there are always winds in both of those Straits, and the location of any crash those toxic fumes could have a very damaging affect upon the people of Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, Victoria and the Lower Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, or even Bellingham, Seattle, Port Angeles, Sequim or the US Military base at Whidbey Island in Washington State.
Obviously, you haven’t thought of that nor have the other members of the so-called environmental protection ministries, or do you simply not care and are the people of Washington State aware of that same lack of concern for them as you have for the people of coastal BC?
Naturally, our air-breathing friends from the ocean, whales, seals, sea lions, otters and coastal birds along with the fish which will be unable to swallow the bitumen clumps do not factor into your reasoning either. It’s all to do with corporate money and profit isn’t it Mr. Carr?
After your speech there were, as usual, some questions two of which stand out:
Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to the minister’s intervention and, again, it was all flowery rhetoric. The Liberals govern by saying yes, but in truth they actually govern with a no. Every act they take leads to less investment in our communities. It has been estimated that just in one week, because of the price differential Albertans, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia are experiencing, one school and one hospital are being built in America and are not being built in Canada, all because the Liberals will not do anything about it. The minister talked about borrowing the land and environment from future generations. Absolutely the Liberals are borrowing huge, vast sums of money to finance their deficit spending and then not replacing it with investments.
On the TMX, the Trans Mountain expansion application was put in on December 16, 2013. We are five years and the line is still not built. I blame the government for doing this. I blame the government’s delays, talking a good game, but not doing anything. Another generation, the greatest generation, was able to almost fight World War II and win it and we are still waiting for a pipeline to be built, all because of the current government.
What does the minister have to say to my constituents about the government’s absolute failure to get energy infrastructure in the national interest built in Canada?
Madam Speaker, I would say to the hon. member’s constituents that the Government of Canada believes we strike a balance between energy infrastructure development to job creation and environmental stewardship. We believe we have struck that balance through the approval of very important pipelines. The point should not be lost that it is very important to Canada to expand its export markets, that 99% of our exports in oil and gas go to one country, the United States. That is not good for our country, which is why, for a variety of other reasons, we think TMX is in Canada’s interest.
It is true in other sectors of the economy. We know that 99% of our exports of softwood lumber from Quebec go to one country, the United States. Therefore, I think the hon. member’s constituents would feel that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of expanding in those markets, creating good jobs, and also of doing it in a way that is sustainable in the long term.
Quite apart from the sheer partisan nonsense posed by this eventual question –(“ Another generation, the greatest generation, was able to almost fight World War II and win it”… does that mean we were almost able to fight it or almost able to win it?) – and yet your answer was equally ambiguous referring to 99% of natural resources going to the USA with no reference to Article 605 of NAFTA and the problems that causes, and Minister Freeland has not even bothered to tell me if that is up for the re-negotiation of a Trade agreement which should be scrapped. How can we export anywhere if we have already committed 99% of our production to the USA? The Canadian Action Party has believed that NAFTA is good for the USA but not for Canada and Mexico, and we would signal our intent to scrap it immediately, and trade as we can with who we can at a mutually beneficial pace.
Then a question with implications of grave concern:
Madam Speaker, the minister said, irresponsibly, to a group of business leaders that he would use military defence and police forces to push this pipeline through. Will he stand in the House today and say that he will never do this, that it would never be considered, that he would not use the army and the police forces against British Columbians in their own communities, on the reserves, and in their municipalities? I would like him to stand today and say that is not an option on the table.
Madam Speaker, I am glad to respond to that. I am both confused and disappointed as to why the hon. member continues to bring that up since I have apologized and said I had misspoken. Within a few days of having said it, I realized it would invoke images that were not healthy to the debate, and I apologized to indigenous leaders. I will say again, as I have said many times over many months, that I apologized and misspoke.
A question which asked for a yes or no answer and neither was given. An apology for having “misspoken” – a phrase coined by Peter Van Loan in defense of Brad Butt’s outright lies to the House in the last parliament – though perhaps required at another place was not an answer to this question very much on the minds of all BC as we possible are facing a recurrence of what happened at Standing Rock right here at home from our own army and the rent-a-cop RCMP. The assumption here is that you cannot answer with either a yes or no and that the people of BC should be prepared for any eventuality.
War Measures Act over a pipeline anyone?
I am sure that the good people of Winnipeg must be wondering how safe Lake Winnipeg might be under this government’s carefree blindness to the realities of their health and indeed even their lives.
ps a copy of this was sent to Jay Inslee, Governor of the Washington State and was replied to immediately