The arguments in favor of the Enbridge-proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline often stress the economic benefits the pipeline will bring to Canada. Economists and trade organizations emphasize the advantages of increased production in the tar sands for Albertans and the jobs produced during pipeline construction for British Columbians. Another supposed economic bonus is to come from strengthened trade relations with China, the largest foreign investor currently involved in Canada’s tar sands.
Last week The Globe and Mail put it this way:
“The refinery’s scramble for oil is perhaps the single best indication of the tremendous shift under way in the oil patch, as oil companies rapidly move to seize new export markets that pay higher prices for crude…The Chevron refinery, then, suddenly finds itself competing for oil with a much broader market. The impact has been dramatic. In November of 2010, the refinery received 51,609 barrels from the pipeline. In the first four months of 2012, it averaged 33,744. During that period, the pipeline was roughly 70 percent oversubscribed, as huge volumes of oil sought to find their way to Pacific markets.”
NDP energy critic Peter Julian says this is a strategy that just won’t work for Canada in the long term: “We need to ensure the resources we develop should have, as much as possible, value-added done in Canada. We are exporting raw bitumen, raw logs and raw minerals. The Conservative government’s plan is to export more in raw state. This is a real problem because when you look at the disastrous trade deficits that we are seeing now in large part because we have a government that is focused on raw exports rather than the development of value-added products.
We have lost half a million manufacturing jobs under the Conservatives’ watch and they want to fuel raw exports rather than development of refinery capacity and upgrading capacity. When we are exporting raw bitumen, we are exporting jobs. We don’t feel that the plan to carve out raw bitumen as fast as possible and ship it offshore is either environmentally sustainable or economically smart from a Canadian perspective.”
“We are concerned with the growing foreign investment in Canada and what that might mean for the oil sands. We need a level playing field for these types of takeovers and ensure they take place if there is net benefit to Canada…We need to maximize the potential of our resources,” he said.