LETTER: Need to unite around exit strategy

“Oil extraction makes up less than three per cent of Canada’s GDP.”

To the editor:

Making the case for the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline (Capital News, June 8) Stephen Fuhr says the pipeline is “necessary” for Canada’s economic growth, for jobs, and for government revenue to pay for programs and services.

In fact, it’s not. Oil extraction makes up less than three per cent of Canada’s GDP. Relative to the activity that generates the other 97 per cent, that’s peanuts.

As for jobs, oil and gas workers account for only two per cent of the national workforce, according to a report released last month, and the majority of those jobs involve temporary construction work.

As for government revenue, last year a total of $4.1 billion in royalty revenues was paid by Canadian oil producers to various provinces. In this period, only $1.4 billion of Albertan revenue derived from bitumen royalties. $40.9 billion came from other activities.


Given the small role oil actually plays in the economic life of the country, does the federal government have the right priorities as it commits $15 to $20 billion of taxpayer dollars, according to economist Robyn Allan, for the purchase and twinning of an oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of BC – setting up untold difficulties with First Nations all along the way, increasing the environmental risk of spills, and destroying any chance that the country will meet its GHG emissions reduction targets agreed in Paris?

In weighing an answer, we need also consider government subsidies that are provided to the oil and gas industry, estimated to be $3.3 billion per year.

The costs of fossil fuel production and exploitation further inflate when we consider externalities – the “hidden” costs to workers, the public, society and future generations involving health, safety and the environment.

The cost of mines clean-up, estimated at $23 billion in 2016, is a significant external cost.

The cost of climate change is another. In 2011 a government-funded think tank reported the cost of climate change for Canada could start at roughly $5 billion a year in 2020 and increase to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by 2050.

We need also consider market conditions. Not only is the price per barrel of oil half what it used to be, China appears to no longer have any interest in purchasing low-grade Canadian bitumen, not least because of the advent of Very Large Crude Carriers that have cut transportation costs.

The carriers comfortably run out of southern U.S. ports, but are too large to run out of the terminus at Burnaby. Bitumen was never a competitive product without the market discounting it, and it’s just become less so.

Any argument about “necessity” should actually be about the need to get out of the tar sands business as soon as possible. It’s a sunset industry, everyone keeps saying – there’s no future in it.

Iron & Earth is an Alberta-based, worker-led organization that advocates for building a renewable energy economy and retrains already displaced oil and gas workers to function within it. Like them, the federal government should be looking for an exit strategy that will protect Canadian workers, rather than purchasing an economically and environmentally risky pipeline that divides provinces, political parties, and ordinary people across their dinner tables.

Dianne Varga,


Just Posted

World Community Film Festival returns to Kelowna

The festival celebrates its 16th anniversary

Line-up for Kelowna Fan Experience 2019 to be announced

The line-up will be announced Feb. 22

2019’s “status quo” budget accepted cautiously by Kelowna Chamber

“(This budget) is to appeal to an NDP base.”

Teresa May talent agency opens in Kelowna

The agency will be holding an all ages open casting event Feb. 24

Niedermayer jersey retirement ceremony a dream come true

Penticton minor hockey players bring home memories of a lifetime from Niedermayer jersey retirement

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Larch Hills junior skiers top Teck BC Midget Championships

Multiple top-five finishes contribute to aggregate team trophy

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

Vehicle fire on Coquihalla near Kamloops

A large plume of smoke could be seen rising into the sky over Highway 5

Pool plans disappoint Shuswap swim clubs

Salmon Arm mayor assures options for city rec centre only preliminary

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Most Read