Obstinate Harper Fuels Pipeline Opposition

Simon Donner

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to transport oil from Alberta to a new port here on the B.C. coast is shaping up to be the political battle of the year, if not the decade. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stung by U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline in the face of a vocal protest movement, has already tried to blame foreign interests for opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline. The truth is, the Harper government has only itself to blame for the breadth and depth of the opposition to new pipelines that would ferry crude from the oil sands in Alberta.

If the Harper government were not so consistently obstinate on federal climate policy, people like me (a climate scientist who has long been wary of the NIMBYism of environmental groups) might not become vociferous opponents of projects like Northern Gateway. We are forced to oppose individual carbon-intensive projects because the government refuses to listen to scientific or economic reason on climate change.

Since their days in opposition, the Harper Conservatives have failed to take real action to address greenhouse-gas emissions. They have been unwilling to negotiate with other countries, other political parties, or even the provinces, on emissions targets or carbon pricing. They have promised initiatives like a cap-and-trade system for large industrial emitters, but have never delivered. They even recently softened their own proposed emissions regulations for coal-fired power plants, which were already full of loopholes, because of lobbying by industry.

Related: Putting a Price on Carbon

It is a government’s refusal to address inequities or negotiate on issues of public concern that motivates and empowers protest movements. If the Harper government wants to quell the widespread national and international opposition to the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, it needs to announce a comprehensive climate policy that includes a federal price on carbon.

A shift from taxing income to taxing carbon, demonized by the Conservatives during the 2008 election campaign, would be a traditionally conservative way to ensure that further development of the oil sands does not come at the expense of our other industries, our reputation, or the global climate.

A carbon-pricing system, like those of British Columbia and Australia, would not necessarily prevent pipeline construction. Rather, it could allow the market to decide whether the costs of a new pipeline outweigh the benefits, and ensure that any emissions from such new projects are more than compensated for by cuts elsewhere. This would also help Canada slowly transition towards a 21st-century economy, based on innovation and our plentiful renewable resources, without ignoring extractive industries of our past.

Related: The Height of Responsibility

Announcing a federal price on carbon might not end all opposition to Northern Gateway. A climate policy would, at minimum, provide the federal and Alberta government some room for negotiation with environmental groups. In a globalized world, opposition to local resource extraction or local resource flows without reducing overall demand for that resource can outsource environmental degradation to other countries. It is certainly easier for people to place local environmental sacrifices in a global perspective if the country is committed to addressing a global problem like climate change.

Under other circumstances, I would not oppose individual pipelines or power plants. Unfortunately, right now, opposing individual projects is the only option for controlling Canada’s carbon emissions.

Absent a federal effort to manage carbon emissions, there will be a pitched battle over every new pipeline and every new coal-burning power plant. Many of those seeming slam dunks, like Keystone XL, will clang off the rim.

We could keep fighting like this forever. Or we could work together on a federal climate policy.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

  • 'Stupid' law preventing Canada's re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'Stupid' law preventing Canada's re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

    The real reason the Liberal government hasn't been able to re-establish relations with Iran is due to its adherence to a "stupid" Canadian law allowing the seizure of Iranian assets, says Canada's recently expelled ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Dennis Horak, who was expelled from Saudi Arabia in August after its rulers were incensed by a tweet from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, offered that blunt assessment as he shed new light on another controversial moment in Canada's Middle East relations. Six years ago, the previous Conservative government abruptly severed its diplomatic relations with Iran, shuttering its embassy in Tehran and expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada.

  • Former Ontario Tory leader Patrick Brown attempts political comeback in Brampton
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Former Ontario Tory leader Patrick Brown attempts political comeback in Brampton

    Patrick Brown is down, but he may not be out yet. The embattled politician, who was forced to resign as leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives months before the party won a majority government, is trying to resurrect his political career with a run for mayor in Brampton, a fast-growing city northwest of Toronto where over 70 per cent of residents identify as visible minorities. Brown faces an uphill battle against incumbent Mayor Linda Jeffrey, a former Liberal cabinet minister who has the support of high-profile politicians from major parties, including some of Brown's former colleagues.

  • McKenna Gets Real About Canada’s Uphill Fight Against Climate Change
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    McKenna Gets Real About Canada’s Uphill Fight Against Climate Change

    OTTAWA — A recent UN climate change report has given humanity 12 years to get its act together to curb rising temperatures to avoid unprecedented environmental disaster.

  • Julie Van Rosendaal cooks up munchies for your cannabis cravings
    News
    CBC

    Julie Van Rosendaal cooks up munchies for your cannabis cravings

    There has been a lot of talk about new cannabis legislation coming into effect this week and its ability to trigger the munchies. While it's true that your cannabinoid receptors — which are scattered throughout your body but exist mostly in your brain and nervous system — are involved in processes that include mood and appetite, and the active compounds in cannabis alter these receptors, it's also true that most of us can come down with a severe case of the munchies on any given day, THC on board or not. Classic snack foods are crispy, crunchy, chewy, gooey … they stimulate other senses and satiate a sensory need more than a nutritional one.

  • Exclusive: CrowdStrike hires Goldman Sachs to lead IPO - sources
    News
    Reuters

    Exclusive: CrowdStrike hires Goldman Sachs to lead IPO - sources

    (This October 19 story corrects penultimate paragraph to show that Tenable shares have gained, not declined, since the company's IPO) By Liana B. Baker and Carl O'Donnell NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Cybersecurity software maker CrowdStrike Inc has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to prepare for an initial public offering that could come in the first half of next year, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. CrowdStrike is the latest in a wave of Silicon Valley startups, including ride hailing firms Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] and Lyft Inc, that are eyeing a 2019 stock market listing after repeatedly turning to private investors for funding.

  • This is your brain (and body) on weed: The science of getting high
    News
    CBC

    This is your brain (and body) on weed: The science of getting high

    The legalization of cannabis this week prompted an outpouring of questions from Canadians wondering everything from how and where to buy it, whether they can grow it and what to do when crossing an international border. Martin Davies, an associate professor of pharmacology, said it's a question scientists first started asking in the mid-80s. "A bunch of scientists thought it was really strange how this plant can affect the way our brains work, and the way we experience the world and make us feel hungry and things like this," Davies told CBC's Radio Active on Friday.

  • All the pot stories from CBC P.E.I. this historic week
    News
    CBC

    All the pot stories from CBC P.E.I. this historic week

    Purolator has the contract to deliver pot on P.E.I. and said it was confident it is ready. The Charlottetown Airport put up signs informing travellers they can take up to 30 grams of cannabis on domestic flights — they won't hassle you or even ask you about it. No pot on international flights though, even if consumption is legal at your destination — California, for instance.

  • Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rally in Taiwan
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rally in Taiwan

    Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators gathered in Taiwan's capital on Saturday to express their disapproval with China's stance toward their island. China cut off contact with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's government shortly after her inauguration in 2016 and has been ratcheting up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan in a bid to compel her to agree to Beijing's insistence that the self-governing island democracy is a part of China. "I want to loudly say no to China," said 43-year-old demonstrator Ping Cheng-wen, who is self-employed.

  • Who is Mohammed bin Salman?
    CBC

    Who is Mohammed bin Salman?

    In light of Saudi Arabia's admission that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul consulate, CBC News takes a closer look at the man in charge of Saudi Arabia.

  • Tribute being held to honour Quebec politician and feminist Lise Payette
    News
    CBC

    Tribute being held to honour Quebec politician and feminist Lise Payette

    ​A public tribute is being held today for Lise Payette, the celebrated journalist, feminist and former Parti Québécois minister, who died last month at the age of 87. The ceremony at the Impérial theatre on Bleury Street in downtown Montreal began Saturday at 3 p.m. The tribute is in place of a funeral because Payette asked for there not to be any religious ceremony in honour of her death.

  • New planetarium is latest addition to Jasper Dark Sky Festival
    News
    CBC

    New planetarium is latest addition to Jasper Dark Sky Festival

    Stargazing tourists from around the world are trekking to the Canadian Rockies this weekend to catch the final few days of the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. This year's event, which ends Sunday, drawing an estimated 3,500 tourists for discussions with experts, such as NASA astronauts twins Mark and Scott Kelly, stargazing walks and a visit to the new 50-seat planetarium. What began eight years ago has grown "from a small gathering to a globally-recognized celebration of dark sky and science," said James Jackson, general manager for Tourism Alberta.

  • From Highway 1 to Madison Square Garden: Alberta trumpet soloist to play the Big Apple
    News
    CBC

    From Highway 1 to Madison Square Garden: Alberta trumpet soloist to play the Big Apple

    The professional trumpet soloist who serenaded motorists stranded on the Trans-Canada during a snow storm earlier this month is set to play Madison Square Garden this weekend. Jens Lindemann will play both the Canadian and U.S. national anthems ahead of Sunday's game between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames. "There's a profound reality when you get to do something as important as playing the national anthem for any country," he said.

  • Statistics Canada adds warning to survey after concerns raised about triggering questions
    News
    CBC

    Statistics Canada adds warning to survey after concerns raised about triggering questions

    Funded by the Status of Women Canada, the survey was developed in consultation with survivors of sexual assault and victim groups. "Gender-based violence poses a significant barrier to gender equality in Canada," said survey manager Julie Sauvé. Statistics Canada also consulted mental health professionals on the survey, she said.

  • Good Life Community Bicycle Shop to close down after a decade
    News
    CBC

    Good Life Community Bicycle Shop to close down after a decade

    After a decade of teaching people how to repair and take care of their bicycles, Good Life Community Bike Shop is shutting down. The shop had moved locations a few times, from Eau Claire Market, to the old Ant Hill building in Kensington, to Mission, to a building near Chinook Centre in south Calgary. Parker said the closure is a big loss for the cycling community.

  • 'A Private War' goes to frontline to tell reporter Marie Colvin's story
    News
    Reuters

    'A Private War' goes to frontline to tell reporter Marie Colvin's story

    Now a new film starring "Gone Girl" actress Rosamund Pike tells her story about being fearless on the battlefront. Focusing on the last decade of her life, "A Private War" takes audiences to the frontlines of fighting in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Colvin, reporting for Britain's Sunday Times, was killed in Syria in 2012.

  • Montreal's annual Night of the Homeless aims to raise awareness, help those in need
    News
    CBC

    Montreal's annual Night of the Homeless aims to raise awareness, help those in need

    Hundreds of Montrealers took part in a march aimed at raising awareness about the city's homeless population, Friday night. The event, called Night of the Homeless, ended at Cabot Square and included speeches from elected officials and advocates. Johanne Cooper started working with the Maison Tangente shelter 30 years ago.

  • New Yellowknife councillors happy to 'bridge the gap' of diversity
    News
    CBC

    New Yellowknife councillors happy to 'bridge the gap' of diversity

    Yellowknife's new city council will be sworn in next month, and some say it's more diverse than before. "This is probably the most diverse council there's ever been," said Cynthia Mufandaedza, one of the new faces coming into council. Stacie Smith was the only Indigenous candidate who ran in the 2018 election.

  • Icelandair plane makes emergency landing in Bagotville due to cracked window
    News
    CBC

    Icelandair plane makes emergency landing in Bagotville due to cracked window

    Moments earlier, a ding rang in the airplane and two flight attendants darted to the front. "Your mind goes in a billion different directions, like is this a medical emergency? Could we be hijacked? What is going on?" Hove, 34, said over the phone from his hotel room in Saguenay, a city about 200 km north of Quebec City.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Mega Millions jackpot hits $1.6B, thanks to worsening odds

    If it seems like lottery jackpots are getting larger and larger, it's because they are getting larger and larger. Tuesday night's Mega Millions estimated grand prize has hit a staggering $1.6 billion, continuing a trend of giant jackpots. The theory was that bigger jackpots would draw more attention, leading more players to plop down $2 for a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket.

  • 'It's a mess': Pot shop owners say Alberta is running out of weed
    News
    CBC

    'It's a mess': Pot shop owners say Alberta is running out of weed

    After a week of lineups at pot shops across the province, some store owners say there's not enough weed left to keep their doors open and they're struggling to order more. Not all retail stores are necessarily open this weekend — a shortage of stock on the AGLC's retailer website means some new stores aren't able to order any cannabis at all to stock their shelves, and those that have run out can't order enough to restock. The AGLC is the province's official supplier of cannabis, offering products from 15 licensed producers.

  • Historic airplane makes journey from High River to museum in Nanton
    News
    CBC

    Historic airplane makes journey from High River to museum in Nanton

    Motorists travelling between High River and Nanton, Alta., were treated to a rare site Saturday morning — a vintage, twin-engine plane used to train crews during the Second World War being trucked to the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. The Cessna Crane — with its nearly 13-metre wingspan — was loaded onto a flatbed truck in High River and driven south to Nanton, having been donated to the museum by an Alberta family. Ben Schwartz, a board member at the museum, was behind the wheel of the flatbed truck and said one thing he had to be wary of was speed.

  • Donation from company that will save Regina German Club $70K in repairs 'like winning the lottery'
    News
    CBC

    Donation from company that will save Regina German Club $70K in repairs 'like winning the lottery'

    Regina's German Club says Christmas has come a little early, in the form of a donation that will save the organization an estimated $70,000 repair bill. The club faced its own nightmare before Christmas with the expensive replacement of its building's aging furnace system — but a local company has now offered to replace and install three new furnace units in the building free of charge. It's taken a huge hindrance off of our plate," said Kerri Van Loosen, president of the German Club.

  • Yara Shahidi urges fight against 'identity blind narrative'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Yara Shahidi urges fight against 'identity blind narrative'

    LOS ANGELES — Yara Shahidi brought the crowd to its feet at the GLSEN awards as she warned against an "identity blind narrative" in the struggle for acceptance of all.

  • All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website
    News
    The Canadian Press

    All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

    All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters as part of a "historic" expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch's website, and appear to be scattering throughout the ocean. The research team came to Nova Scotia on a hunch in mid-September, and spent almost a month looking for sharks off the coast of the province in an effort to better understand their movements and mating habits. As of Saturday, Hal and Nova, two male great whites, were seen on Ocearch's shark tracker towards the southeastern part of Nova Scotia, between Lunenburg and Shelburne.

  • Nunavut musicians celebrate mental health in Resolute Bay
    News
    CBC

    Nunavut musicians celebrate mental health in Resolute Bay

    Nunavut musician Colleen Nakashuk, who performs as Aasiva, says music has been an important outlet for her. Nakashuk​ said it was a great experience visiting Resolute Bay, where she also attended a grant writing workshop, Inuit games and a storytelling circle. The musician, whose music features ukulele, Inuktitut lyrics and throat singing, also brought 50 ukuleles to the community and held workshops with some of the students.