The Art of Politics... And Pipelines

Originally published in a Resource Works' email newsletter on the morning of August 27th, 2015. Sign up to receive email newsletters on the main page of their website:  

Thank you, comedian Groucho Marx, for this definition: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

There are 54 days to go until federal voting day on Oct. 19, plenty of time for political leaders to do all of the above—and to change their minds, or finally make them up—on key energy issues.

So far, only the Conservatives and Greens have spoken clearly on the big pipeline issues: Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, Energy East and Keystone XL. In a nutshell: Conservatives yes, Greens no.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau are both against the Northern Gateway line through BC, period.

But they have taken no such definitive position (yet) on the other proposed pipelines. Both say they proposals should go through a more rigorous review process than the current National Energy Board examination.

Mulcair initially appeared to support the Energy East pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick, but he later backed off. He now says it needs a more stringent review—and that such reviews should also take into account whether the projects would significantly increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says we do need to get our oil to markets, and that the alternative to pipelines is oil by rail “which nobody wants across the country." But he, too, proposes tougher reviews, and “a better process of getting community support and community buy-in.” The NEB, he says, has become politicized and if elected he would strengthen and reconfigure it.


Tell the candidates in your constituency where you want them and their party to stand on pipeline and energy issues. Not all candidates have yet been named, but for those who have been selected, you can (if you persist) find contact information here:






It’s been interesting to watch a provincial politician, Marge McCuaig-Boyd, settling into her new role as Alberta’s NDP energy minister.

She began by recognizing that there is uncertainty in Alberta because of plunging oil prices and a new NDP government that has promised a review of Alberta’s energy royalties.

“It is a good time to do a royalty review. Industry is down. We have time to talk to them and we have time to be prepared for when we move on.” She even said that Alberta might (might) be open to offering economic incentives to oil and gas companies.

Then a new paper from a political scientist and energy scholar from the Manning Centre identified 13 specific policy risks posed by the NDP government to Alberta’s oil and gas sector. “The fear is ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ and the mood is pessimistic.”

Now we learn that McCuaig-Boyd told a private gathering of oil and gas executives it’s time Albertans “quit apologizing for our oil industry because we are the best.”

And she went on to cite a Fraser Institute report that found moving oil and gas by pipeline in Canada is 4.5 times safer than transport by rail.

We can't wait for her to go public with such points.

Resource Works


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