The Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce hosted an all candidates forum for the constituency of Battlefords-Lloydminster at the Centennial Civic Centre on Oct. 7 and one of the hot button issues was policy on oil pipelines. All of the candidates agreed that pipelines needed to be built but each for different reasons.
Independent candidate Doug Anguish, a former NDP member who served as both a member of Parliament and member of the legislative assembly for the former Battlefords constituencies in the 1980s, criticized the Conservative government’s past ways of dealing with pipelines.
“I think that the current government has an abysmal record on pipelines,” he said. “We should not be hauling oil and hydro carbons by train. The infrastructure for rail is getting built up all across Western Canada for oil and hydrocarbons. Has anybody watched what has happened to Lac Megantic? That’ll happen again. We need pipelines built in Canada and we need more refining capacity.”
Anguish also took issue with the practice of sending oil to the U.S. at “record low prices” to be refined, just to buy it back as gasoline at an inflated cost.
“I would encourage the building of pipeline infrastructure and refining capacity within Canada. That’s an area that can have a dramatic impact on our economy but also on our jobs.”
Conservative incumbent Gerry Ritz countered by illustrating his party’s recent work on the issue but didn’t comment on the use of trains to transport oil. Ritz agreed that pipelines were the best route, saying they were the most effective and efficient way to move the resource. He said the product is there, as are the customers, all that’s left is connecting the dots.
“Actually, we just completed the environmental study on Northern Gateway, it’s ready to go,” said Ritz. “There are discussions with the First Nations in the area of the province of British Columbia. The (Energy East) pipeline actually exists all the way to the eastern border of Ontario, the new part of it would have to be built from Ontario on through to a refinery in Montreal that’s sitting idle and, of course, the urban refinery in New Brunswick that meets the capacity.
“That one is good to go too, from a federal perspective, as well as Keystone XL. Very few people understand that it’s already under construction from Texas up to North Dakota. What we need to do is add on from here down to there, and that’s up to the American legislators.”
Liberal candidate Larry Ingram says his party would consult with the concerned citizens and the people that have the reserves and says certain projects should have moved forward years ago.
“It’s nice that Gerry (Ritz) updated everybody now for the pipelines that they have in place. I believe that the east-west one, we should have been able to use it a few years ago because it’s been sitting there idle and I think that proper negotiations would have had that done.”
Glenn Tait, of the NDP, took the opportunity to try and clarify his party’s stance on the issue, one he says has been muddled by messages from the Conservatives that aren’t true. He says the NDP are in favour of pipeline development, but would aim to tackle it with the environment in mind.
“There is a demand for oil, we have oil, we shall drill for it, we shall process it and pipe it. I have oil under my land and I want to sell it. That being said, it’s not up to the federal government to promote or bar any particular oil pipeline for its own merit,” said Tait.
“But we are, however, responsible for enforcing the environmental regulations, which are a shadow of what used to be.”