The Epistle of Q — Chapter Seventy-Seven

Sometimes “letters to the editor” do not give enough space for a thoughtful conversation. So I’m going to tell you and if it rings true enough, you can take what you want and send it to your paper.

Where has rationality gone in this province of ours, let alone our country? We seem to be confused about how this country best runs and how it finances all the collective programs we enjoy. Many critics of the Kinder-Morgan expansion seem unaware that pipelines generate more income than simply the oil royalties the originating province receives. During the building of a pipeline (and there are countless numbers across the country) purchases of the builders generate gst & pst for governments wherein the pipeline is being constructed. As well, income taxes are generated from the workers, again in the provinces where they reside. (As well, these people also generate gst & pst revenues by their purchases.) There also are related monies through fees and regulatory costs. After the pipeline is built there are then similar taxes raised from people hired at the refineries, the ports, the pumping stations, mid-line storage terminals, route inspectors, as well as the various retail outlets for the products and the like.

Given all this why do we have such vehement opposition? Forgetting for the moment that pipelines are much safer than shipping by rail, let’s just look at the inconsistencies.
We have two provinces (Québec and BC) who oppose pipelines let allow two of their major cities daily spew untreated sewage into marine waters (Montréal and Victoria) – so obviously pollution isn’t really the issue.

There is then the claim that the pipelines must be stopped because there might be a spill. Well, in Vancouver the government permits the building of high-rises even though there is a good possibility that an earthquake could destroy them and kill the residents – so is the danger of a spill quantifiably and qualifiably more horrific and less infrequent?

These same two provincial governments want to ban pipelines yet they accept tanker trains – in light of the Lac Megantic tragedy it would seem they should be more concerned about safety of their citizens. Of course, we know that the BC government isn’t totally opposed to pipelines because it wants one to be built to serve LNG plants it is giving concessions to encourage their construction.

There is also a desire to ban tanker ships from sailing in their waters. This too seems only targeted at domestic oil because Quebec gets most of its crude from the Middle East and Venezuela. Setting aside the rather noticeably different societal values of those peoples, the oil still has to get to its refineries by ship. And BC will have to allow LNG tankers to reach their processing plants and due to current insufficient oil from the prairies, oil tankers from the USA are sailing into Vancouver harbour to help ensure adequate supplies for the many thousands of different vehicles on BC streets and roads.

The inconsistencies also extend to the differences related to Aboriginal economic self-reliance – not every Aboriginal doesn’t want pipelines to be built. In fact many opportunities for skills training and business development have been demonstrated in the oil patch already – there are numerous very successful Aboriginal fossil fuel-related companies already in existence. These could be called upon to assist Aboriginal groups and individuals in BC. Many communities complain of being left out of the economic world in BC – why not allow those who want to participate do so?

And then there is the final irony. A candidate for the Green Party (in the Okanagan in the last provincial election) somehow got herself all the way to Vancouver to participate in an illegal protest against the pipeline. While she was arrested and will face potential criminal charges in court, the more immediate question is: how did she actually get to the protest? Did she cycle or walk? Or, did she use some form of fossil-fuel powered vehicle for which she wants to stop the rest of us from using? Perhaps we are fortunate that she did not win the seat…