Candidates debate ‘symbolic’ pipeline

Candidates debate ‘symbolic’ pipeline

Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk (left) defends the Trans Mountain pipeline, calling it "symbolic." But Green Party candidate Tara-Lyn Howse totally disagrees. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

(This is the fourth article on Wednesday’s all-candidates forum at Frank Venables Theatre.)

By Lyonel Doherty

People’s Party of Canada Sean Taylor was asked if his government will support the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

“Most definitely,” he said. “This is a national infrastructure project that’s in the best interests of Canada.”

Taylor said the inability to get our natural resources to market (to tide water) leaves us beholden to the United States.

Incumbent MP Richard Cannings noted that Section 35 of the Constitution protects Indigenous rights which have to be respected. Therefore, proper consultation is required first before the pipeline is built.

“The point that I would like to make is that all these pipeline proposals on the table now are all expansion projects designed to increase the production of oil in Alberta at a time when the world is awash in cheap oil and the oil demand in the world is trending downwards.”

Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk said she supports Trans Mountain, noting that fortunately Canada is facing a transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

Green Party candidate Tara-Lyn Howse said she definitely does not support the pipeline, adding that Canada doesn’t need a new pipeline.

“Fossil fuels are just continually going downhill. We do not need to be investing in infrastructure and development that is not going to serve our future.”

Taylor said it is counterproductive to take Canada’s oil out of the market.

“There’s no doubt that we’re moving toward the end of fossil fuels; it’s a long ways off and we need to capitalize on this to be able to have the funds to transition to the next phase.”

Conservative candidate Helena Konanz said she doesn’t believe we should continue to get oil from countries like Saudi Arabia when Canada is the number one resource country in the world. She noted the Conservatives plan to be energy independent by 2030.

Denesiuk was asked how Canada is expected to show leadership on environmental issues while buying a pipeline.

She said the pipeline has actually become “symbolic” and noted the money from oil sales will go directly to fund climate change, infrastructure and technologies for renewable energy.

Denesiuk said the Liberal government has made a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Cannings said it all sounds good but reminded the audience that the government spent $4.5 billion buying the pipeline and will spend another $10 billion to complete the expansion.

“We could have spent that money on good things, on good climate action.”

Howse piped up and said, “It sure was symbolic, Connie.” It symbolizes that the government was not taking the climate threat seriously.”

She said those billions of dollars could have been invested in the renewable sector.

Taylor said the money Canada is leaving on the table by not building the pipeline is too huge. He pointed out that renewables aren’t the answer, adding that two things will take the country off carbon, and that’s fourth generation nuclear and thermal nuclear.

Denesiuk said the taxpayer won’t be on the hook for the pipeline because purchasers are “lined up” to buy the Trans Mountain project.

Konanz said calling the pipeline symbolic is frightening, noting the $4.5 billion is squandered money for a project that the Liberals don’t actually plan to build.