Opposition party leader now appears to support refining oil in Canada
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Opposition party leader now appears to support refining oil in Canada

Ottawa : Canada | Aug 19, 2012 at 5:52 AM PDT
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In an interview on CBC's "The House" Thomas Mulcair, the Leader of the official opposition, said that he supports refining oil in Canada, but considers the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would deliver Alberta crude to Kitimat, B.C. dead. Is this a change of heart of the New Democratic Party leader?

Sometimes it appears as if the opposition leader is talking out of both sides of his mouth. David Black, a prominent British Columbia publisher said on Friday that he will be submitting an environmental application to build a plant that would refine Alberta crude for the finished product to be shipped to Asian markets. The project is estimated at $13 billion and would create 3,000 jobs. The plant would have the capacity of refining 550,000, returning the separated diluent to Alberta via a secondary pipeline.

Enbridge is also in the process of reversing its pipeline number 9 to deliver Alberta crude to the maritimes for refining there. Either way a network of pipelines is required to make these projects work.

The majority of Alberta crude is presently being shipped to the United States. The XL Keystone pipeline was to be a major factor in delivering oil from Hardesty, Alberta to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas.

That project has been delayed by the Obama Administration, primarily due a planned routing through the Nebraska Sandhills, a delicate aquafer. While the project has been rejected for the time being to get beyond the election, it is widely believed that it will be approved after the election, regardless of who gets elected.

Thomas Mulcair on the Oilsands

Earlier this year Thomas Mulcair made comments about Western Canada's resource industry, primarily the oilsands, which the western premiers rejected. Mulcair suggested that Canada was suffering from Dutch disease, claiming that the Alberta Oilsands had killed the manufacturing industry in Quebec and Ontario. Mulcair also suggested that the western Premiers were messengers for Prime Minister Harper. Similar comments were made by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

This provoked more retaliation from the Premiers. The Premier of Saskatchewan, quoting a StatsCan report, said the report proved that the NDP and Mulcair are wrong.

“The stats out today put a lie to some of these theories that Mr. Mulcair has been espousing, I think, or certainly stand in stark contradiction to them because we see in Canada, where there is a strong resource sector and an attendant strong dollar, manufacturing is moving in the right direction,” Wall told reporters.

“We have one more message for Mr. Mulcair and that is that his facts are wrong and what he’s doing is very divisive for the country.”

On the comment by Mulcair that the Premiers were messengers for the Prime Minister, Wall said, “I work for the people of Saskatchewan and if Mr. Mulcair is wondering for whom I am a messenger, I am a messenger for the people of Saskatchewan and for the economic interests of this province.”

Alison Redford took to twitter and said, “Is this national leadership? @Thomas Mulcair continues to make divisive, ill-informed and false comments.”

It seems that Mr. Mulcair has had a change of heart. He now is ok with refining oil, although he hasn't talked about the method of delivery.

David Black's proposal, if approved, would create 30,000 good paying union jobs, but would still require delivery of Alberta crude to Kitimat, British Columbia.

"So whether it's that idea of having more refining capacity on the B.C. coast or what we've talked about, which is to move some of the bitumen in those pipelines, moving it east. Maybe that's a win-win situation," Mulcair said.

"We can start taking care of our own energy security — add the jobs in Canada instead of shipping both the bitumen and the jobs to the U.S. raw," he said. Source: CBC

While talking about refining oil on the BC coast, Mr. Mulcair thinks the Northern Gateway pipeline is dead. That appears to be a contradiction in terms. While there is an inherent risk in every transport method, pipelines overall are still the safest method of delivery.

How does Mr. Mulcair foresee getting Alberta crude to Kitimat if the pipeline is dead?

Prime Minister Harper has been demonized every step of the way by the NDP and environmentalists for promoting resource development. Now Mulcair sees it as a win-win, obviously without a delivery plan.

Black's proposal may break the Redford/Clark deadlock

If David Black's proposal is serious and should pass the environmental hurdles, it may be just the ticket for breaking the deadlock between B.C.s Christy Clark and Alberta's Alison Redford. Clark wants a bigger share of oil revenues for her province, while Redford says any royalty sharing is off the table and that it would change the terms of confederation.

Creating 30,000 jobs may be just the game changer that Christy Clark can't ignore.

As for Thomas Mulcair, he has to decide what it is he really supports. Is it any wonder that Stephen Harper is still the most trusted leader in Canada, according to the latest Nanos poll.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper remains the favoured leader, the survey suggests, with Nanos's leadership index giving him an overall mark of 72.7 compared with Mulcair's 46.8 and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's 41.5. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May elicits 15.4 and Bloc Leader Daniel Paillé gets a 7.0." CBC

There are a lot of factors at play here and in the end it will come to jobs for people. The Alberta Oil sands are still the economic engine of Canada.

"During a time when the global economy is slowing, "Alberta will lead Canada in economic growth this year and employment in Calgary and Edmonton is expected to strengthen through 2016 with the addition of 120,000 new jobs, according to a special report released Friday by BMO Capital Markets Economics." Calgary Herald

120,000 jobs in a province with a population of just over 3 Million is nothing to sneeze at.


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Inter Pipeline Construction in Alberta
A pipeline to deliver oil to Scotford plant in Fort Saskatchewan (Karl Gotthardt)
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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