Veer: Advocating for pipelines on behalf of Red Deer

December 22, 2018 - 9:39pm

Fellow Red Deerians and Central Albertans,

City Council has received questions regarding our advocacy for national pipeline infrastructure to get Alberta's energy to market.

Municipalities do not have decision making powers on this highly critical issue, however in support of the people of our community and fellow Albertans we have tried to influence and share our community's needs to the Provincial and Federal Governments.

To date, Red Deer City Council has:

* unanimously adopted a resolution in support of energy infrastructure.
* supported the pipeline advocacy of mid-sized Mayor's caucus.
* supported the pipeline advocacy of Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
* on behalf of community, Council and City, I also attended the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and submitted testimony for their consideration. The following is an excerpt of my presentation:

Mr. Chairman, Honoured Dignitaries -

Thank you for the opportunity to present to you from a Mayor’s perspective and on behalf of Alberta’s third largest City.

My intent is to submit testimony to reframe what has become a nationally divisive debate about IF energy product should be transported to HOW BEST to safely transport Canadian product to domestic and international markets. I will speak to the responsibility of the Federation to do so on grounds of: Economic Diversification & Canadian Sovereignty, Environmental Responsibility, and the Ethical Imperative of Good Government.

Under Federalism, Transport Canada is mandated with responsibility to make provision for the safe transport of domestic product to fulfill Canada’s national objectives. The question before our country should be less a judgement of pipelines per se, but how do we mitigate any risks associated with how we choose to transport the energy all Canadians rely upon.

Our country requires energy for innovations in medicine, environmental protection, goods & services production, transport & retailing, research & development, and manufacturing; The economics of energy transport is therefore beyond the employment, commodity and value added contributions to GDP we traditionally associate with the energy sector. ALL Regions and ALL Canadians rely on energy not just as a sector in and of itself, but as a diversification driver.

Long term sustainability is the ultimate objective of energy transport. Energy is foundational to all existing and emerging regional and national economies. Shipping industries off the St. Lawrence Seaway, off Eastern and Western coastlines rely on energy. BC’s forestry industries, Ontario’s manufacturing industries, intellectual industries, tourism industries and one of Quebec’s largest employers rely on energy.

Some jurisdictions will suggest that domestic energy transport has no direct or indirect economic benefit for their constituencies. However, sustainable Provincial and Federal coffers through energy royalites, income tax, and federal equalization payments translate into essential public infrastructure and government services that have direct and indirect economic benefit for all Canadians. 

Our country is forfeiting opportunity. But this is not an opportunity cost in a financial sense for Alberta alone, but one borne by all Canadians as long as we remain bound by systemic, competitive disadvantage. It is an opportunity cost in community and country building. Some are saying no pipelines, when what we actually need to say no to is the forfeiture of our environmental, economic and social sovereignty to other energy source countries and our sole customers to the South.

There are many who challenge energy transportation on environmental grounds, but it is arguable that if Canadians are not masters of our environmental fate we are simply shifting the environmental burden of product transport.
Energy is already being transported through every jurisdiction in our country, it is only a question of how. A comprehensive environmental perspective, however, would consider the “cumulative effects” of sourcing energy for Canadians from other parts of the world, source countries with environmental negligence, violations, and unsustainable practices. Opposing environmentally ethical energy arguably contributes to the aggregate of detrimental environmental impact by sourcing energy for domestic purposes from countries without environmental conscience.

Canada is respected internationally for our human rights record and all that is synonymous with being Canadian. Those who oppose domestic energy transport must acknowledge the consequences of continuing with the status quo, rather that opting to source from Canadian producers who not only abide by the most stringent environmental regulations & labour standards in energy producing countries, but who are also producers of environmental innovations & technologies in all aspects of resource extraction, production and refinement.

Good Government engages in democratic process that is uncompromising in integrity, transparency, accountability, and fairness in its due process. The credibility of recommendations regarding how our country will choose to safely transport all domestic product will be directly correlated to the credibility of the process they will be built upon.

Consultation with Indigenous Persons must be early, ongoing and through mechanisms that recognize self-determination. Consultation with environmental stakeholders, energy stakeholders and the general public must be early, ongoing and comprehensive.

Members of the Committee, in terms of “how” Canada chooses to transport domestic product, I submit to you that the Canadian way is to choose environmentally and socially ethical energy, to choose sovereignty and sustainability for our national economy, and to find a way how with all Canadians in the interest of all Canadians.

I will leave you with submission packages on behalf of Red Deer City Council and the citizens of our community, including the resolution we unanimously adopted in support of safe domestic energy transport. As one of Canada’s fastest growing and most dynamic cities, we are relying heavily on your recommendations. Our unemployment rate is at an historic high of 10%, and for the first time in 40 years we have lost population. Your decision matters to your fellow Canadians in Central Alberta. We appeal to you to find a way how that respects the economic, social and environmental interests of all Canadians. Thank you.

Mayor Tara Veer
The City of Red Deer

The above post was shared on Tara Veer's Facebook page on December 21. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to [email protected]

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