By: Clement Nocos
Alberta’s economy has been riding a “bitumen bubble” that is set to burst. Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s recent announcement on the poor state of the province’s fiscal well-being is surprising on the surface. Alberta is the wealthiest “have” “petro-province” seemingly swimming in “petro-wealth”, albeit one of the most unequal in terms of wealth distribution, so why is the government strapped with $6 billion shortfall in revenue?
The simple answer, according to the provincial Wildrose Party, is too much spending which is peculiar considering the province has one of the lowest spending per capita governments in the entire federation. Some could point to a slowing global economy. Others could say Alberta’s oil industry isn’t big enough and needs to find more buyers. Whatever the reason, Alberta’s financial woes are not good news for the rest of Canada.
Underneath it all are the historic missteps and missed opportunities in establishing Alberta’s oil industry that have led to this latest fiscal hiccup. The continued deregulation of Alberta’s oil and tar sands has certainly allowed corporations to expand the industry to the size and breadth that it enjoys today, but the continued revenue-reducing (i.e. tax cuts) of the Alberta government has wreaked havoc on its ability to share wealth throughout the federation, much less, its capacity to fund its own social spending.
By: Chris Burke
Tonight (Nov. 19th), local activists in Kitchener-Waterloo will be gathering to protest Enbridge’s planned reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline.
The pipeline, known as Line 9, has been buried under the Grand River and North Dumfries Township since the mid-1970s. It’s a major artery for foreign crude headed west to refineries in Sarnia
But a proposed change to Line 9 is bringing new concerns about the safety of the 40-year-old pipeline. Environmentalists warn that a plan by Calgary-based Enbridge Pipelines to reverse the direction of flow and start pumping crude oil eastward from Alberta could expose our region to contamination (The Record).
The debate over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline (hereafter referred to as “the pipeline”) continues to rage on. Proponents and opponents of the pipeline wave around studies and statistics claiming either economic boom or ruin if the pipeline is constructed and goes into operation. This article will begin with an examination of the economic pros of the pipeline before moving on to possible economic cons. Will Canadians herald in a new era of economic prosperity of jobs and billions in economic growth, or will they struggle under increased oil prices and a rise in inflation? From here the article will make the case that the economic debate misses an important point in the analysis of the costs and benefits of the pipeline: the environmental impacts. The environmental consequences of the pipeline, which the government itself has admitted could be dire, will be considered to make the case that we must continue to look beyond economic issues. Whatever economic benefits the pipeline may bring are not worth the environmental risks. Additionally, it will be shown that although the current trend has Canada moving along a path of increased oil development such a trend is not one that ought to be taken. Canada’s leaders of today and tomorrow must begin to see the world beyond the narrow frame of economics and plan for a sustainable future.
The line repeated again and again by proponents of the pipeline is that it will bring economic prosperity to the country. “We must use Canada’s natural resources to our benefit”, they argue. Will the pipeline bring about this prosperity? In a recent study the Fraser Institute argues that it will. The pipeline, they say, would benefit the economy. “(It) will funnel billions of dollars into the national economy and create thousands of jobs.” Further, their study contends that First Nations communities “would economically benefit from the project (e.g. job growth)”. Gerry Angevine, a senior economist with the Fraser Institute said, “Canada would add $10.5 billion to its GDP with the construction of the pipeline. Operations would bring at least 1,150 long-term jobs and funnel $9 billion per year to the country’s GDP”. The report suggests that the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec would, “benefit from supply steel, equipment, and other supplies to the project”. The argument by the Fraser Institute that the pipeline would benefit Ontario and Quebec is interesting to note as it runs in contradiction to comments from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair who argues that the oil sands are responsible for “Dutch disease” in the Canadian economy. Dutch disease is the term given to the situation in which, “Energy exports from the oil sands artificially raise the Canadian dollar and hollow out the manufacturing industry”. Has Canada contracted Dutch Disease? Mulcair’s concerns are echoed by a study that will now be examined.
The debate over the health effects of wind energy is a case study in Not-In-My-Back-Yardism and that sometimes, even in a democracy, listening to the people benefits no one. Now that’s a pretty bold assertion, but fear not as I will back it up By Chris Burke. The study is a waste of time and money …