You have to admire the resourcefulness of Albertans. They always have answers at the ready to overcome political obstacles. Whether the blockage is created by Ottawa or the Legislature in Edmonton, they will come up with an answer. The usual solution is to form a new and more right-wing political party. The current provincial inheritor of the Conservative-Reform-Alliance parties is the Wildrose Alliance. The party has been poised to move in on the Alberta Conservatives as that party’s strength erodes.
Well ahead in the public opinion polls, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is acting as premier-in-waiting for the election to be held in the next couple months. Smith has Conservative Premier Alison Redford in a bind as the Premier is committed to supporting the Trans-Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline through the United States to the Texas Gulf refineries as well as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline over the Rockies to Kitimat, B.C. This left Smith with an option that had not been considered, an all Canadian solution. She suggested shipping Alberta’s heavy tar sands oil to refineries in Sarnia, Montreal, Quebec City and Saint John. The only pipeline that would be new on that route would be to Saint John from Montreal.
While it was not a brand new suggestion, it got rave reviews in the more conservative media when Smith proposed it in a speech in Ottawa. It could hardly be ignored in Alberta.
But what Smith did not add was the fact that the Enbridge eastern route is through the U.S. before crossing the Canadian border again into Ontario. One of the options all along was to divert heavy oil from the Enbridge pipelines south to Texas. This is a slightly roundabout route but it gets around most of the serious ecological concerns.
Mind you, the more practical people with a concern for the ecology are pointing out that heavy oil can cause the most serious harm to the ecology. They explain that refined oil cannot mix with water and is much easier to clean up than heavy crude. They ask why the heavy crude cannot be processed to a stage in which it could flow easier and not be an ecological disaster waiting for a pipeline break. Nobody seems to be able to answer that.
Nor would it be a concern of someone such as Wildrose’s Danielle Smith. This is a person who did her internship in Alberta politics as an acolyte of the Fraser Institute. In the convoluted politics of Alberta, Ms. Smith describes herself as Pro-Choice Libertarian. That is quite a fence-sitting accomplishment for any politician.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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