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Your Voice: Defending BC's economy after Alberta's boycott on BC wine

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All letters to the editor published by Now Media reflect only the opinions of the readers who write them, and not necessarily those of Now Media or its staff.

RE: Alberta's ban on B.C. wine

Robert Stupka, BC Green Party Candidate, Kelowna-West,

Many people are concerned about Alberta’s ban on BC Wine. This has negative impacts on a very important Okanagan industry, however, Ms. Notley’s actions are disproportionate with what BC is asking for and completely unrelated to the issue of pipelines. The response from the BC Liberals is, in fact, irresponsible and falls into the trap of the Alberta NDP desperately trying to get re-elected. All parties should be defending BC’s economy and environment it depends on.

I have lived in Burnaby, by the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Kelowna, the target of Alberta’s wine ban. I know that in Kelowna the lake is extremely important to our economy and agriculture. This is why we proactively try to protect it from zebra muscles and would not support a project that would put its water supply and tourism at risk. For the wine industry, this would have catastrophic consequences and be unacceptable.

<who>Photo Credit: KelownaNow</who>

The issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline has nothing to do with BC wine and Alberta oil. It has to do with shipping of diluted bitumen through BC for very few jobs and little economic benefit against risking BC’s coast, one of Canada’s major cities and the largest sectors of BC’s economy that are dependent on a pristine environment. The consequences of a spill are catastrophic on a far greater scale.

The question British Columbians should ask is if the benefit from the pipeline outweighs the risks to BC’s economy.

John Horgan has asked for an independent scientific review panel to look into spill response of diluted bitumen. This request is entirely reasonable and necessary to defend BC’s economy. It is baffling the BC Liberals are not willing to do the same.

Diluted bitumen behaves completely differently from refined oil and there is no proven way to clean it up. We also know that Kinder Morgan’s plan was dependent on 20 hours of daylight to clean up a spill. This doesn’t exist anywhere south to Tuktoyaktuk.

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The National Energy Board (NEB) process through which the Trans Mountain pipeline was approved, has been characterized as rigged by many and even admitted to be flawed by the Trudeau government. In 2015 Trudeau said an overhaul of the NEB process would be applied to the project. It has not. A modified process was applied to the Energy East pipeline and a new process has now been proposed. It is reasonable given these circumstances that change to provide credibility to the assessment of the Trans Mountain pipeline be made.

As a conduit for shipping bitumen, this project further provides little benefit to British Columbians or Canadians. The raw product could starve Burnaby’s Chevron refinery as the product would get higher prices from Asian markets. Perversely, it is actually shipping jobs overseas and requiring Canada to import the refined product we are literally giving away. Troubling still is the use of automation in the oil sands which literally supports ripping the oil out of the ground as quickly as possible with as few jobs as possible.

If the Trans Mountain pipeline were actually a project for the national best interest, it should be to supply useful petroleum products created with Canadian jobs and to Canadian environmental standards to Canada and abroad. A credible spill response plan should be in place and the costs of a spill should not be borne on Canadian taxpayers.

<who>Photo Credit: File photo</who>

Furthermore, Trudeau needs to be honest with investors about the expected operational life of the pipeline. Canada has never had a credible climate action plan. The Paris climate commitments are not aligned with the amount of fossil fuel projects and pipeline capacity Trudeau has approved. Even with those projects, Trudeau could also not have predicted Trump approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Investors need to know what Canada’s carbon budget is for oil sands expansion or risk investing in stranded assets. Simply, both Trudeau and Kinder Morgan need to be truthful about the project life and its business case.

British Columbians need not fall into the trap of Notley’s political games as the BC Liberals have.

They should expect BC and the Federal government to defend BC’s entire economy and do what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommends: “ensure that a "fair and scientifically-sound" decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline is carried out.”

In the meantime, I encourage all to continue to support BC wine and spread the message far and wide.

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