Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Thank you, Your Honour, for allowing us to have this emergency debate.
Honourable senators, as a British Columbian who lives close to the Trans Mountain pipeline, I wish to add my voice to those calling for our government to ensure that this pipeline expansion goes ahead.
I see the impact of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline on a regular basis. Rather, I see its lack of impact. In many areas the pipeline is invisible, running beneath golf courses and greenbelts as it goes through communities in the North Thompson Valley. The economic impact has been undeniable. In fact, when the pipeline was built in the 1950s, it brought a road into the area for the first time, and that road was upgraded and became Highway 5, a major north-south route through British Columbia, connecting Kamloops to Jasper, Alberta.
Every day I see long trains carrying more and more oil tanker cars going through the City of Kamloops on both railroads en route to the coast.
I live in fear that one of these days there will be a derailment as the trains wind their way down the Fraser Canyon where the tracks are perched on steep slopes above the mighty Fraser River. If oil cars wind up in the river, the impact on the salmon will be horrendous. And if a rail disaster is combined with oil feeding a wildfire in that dry grassy landscape, it’s difficult to think of the inferno that would result.
I support the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. It is the best way to transport oil products.
Honourable senators, there’s so much at stake, including a beneficial impact on the economy all across Canada, as you have heard from my colleagues. There’s no doubt in my mind that the environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline have been well studied and that the environmental impacts can be mitigated.
I do know that pipeline safety today is excellent. The insides of the pipes are continually monitored as are the welded joints between the pipes. A leak would be detected right away and the flow of oil would be stopped. Interestingly enough, when I listened to Senator Galvez talk about the corrosive nature of bitumen, I googled it and came up with the latest information, and it turns out that’s a bit of a red herring.
I’m quoting from an article here:
Diluted bitumen is not more corrosive. In fact, when comparing four types of dilbit, as it’s called, with seven other kinds of oil, the dilbit is among the least corrosive.
There’s so much misinformation out there in the public that it’s no wonder that people have become concerned, and I think the concern is unwarranted. Senator Sinclair just talked about the huge increase of shipping that will occur — 35 ships a day, 10 times as large as the Valdez ship. I don’t believe that’s true. I understand that we currently have one tanker ship a day going through the Port of Vancouver, and that will be increased sevenfold. That will be one each day for seven days; so no more congestion.
Anyway, I’ve digressed a little from my notes, but I wanted to make that point because I am concerned about how some of these unfacts get out there and then become food for fearmongering. I don’t like to call it fake news.
I know there are people who believe that petroleum products coming from oil sands are somehow evil, and they are the cause of global warming — or should I say climate change? Because it may turn out that the climate is not warming.
We’ve been bombarded with messaging for years that man is causing climate change. The result is a debate that’s become polarized and certainly is no longer a credible example of a scientific debate. True scientific debate is used to get to solutions, not to insult and denigrate those on opposite sides of the debate.
Colleagues, as you know, the climate has always changed in spite of the rhetoric that man is causing the change; the science is, by no means, finalized.
The problem with fearmongering around climate change by those who reject the value of resource revenue coming from oil sands is that in demonizing dirty oil, we allow activists to say that pipelines and oil tankers are bad for the environment. Think about it. What is better, shipping products by pipeline or by rail? Common sense says there’s far less risk with a pipeline than there is by shipping oil any other way. As I said before, I live in fear about the derailment of a train with hundreds of oil tanker cars; it’s unthinkable.
But perhaps there are people who believe that it’s better for Canada to be purchasing our oil supplies from other countries. Why should people living in Eastern Canada have to buy oil that comes from the Middle East or other unstable areas of the world? Can we believe that the production of that oil is done in an environmentally friendly way? Why would we not use our own resources, and why would we not sell it at world prices and use the revenues generated to help pay for the many social services that we all want?
I’ve learned a lot about the operation of modern pipelines, how they’re constantly being monitored and upgraded and controlled and leaks can be detected, as I said before. It is clear that the risks are controllable. The same goes for fearmongering among oil tankers. No one can guarantee that there will not be an accident, but I do not know of a major oil spill from a double-hulled tanker, and with modern navigation aids and pilot boats, the risks are acceptable.
Fearmongerers in Vancouver say that tanker traffic will increase sevenfold, but they do not really understand what is happening. They are listening to the people who are promoting this fearmongering. The reason why they’re listening is simple: It sounds bad and we accept it. Around the world, there are many shipping lanes where tankers move safely many times a day.
Honourable senators, Canada is a northern country with vast spaces. We need to use our oil and gas resources to heat our homes, to transport goods across our country and to drive our personal vehicles. It is simply unrealistic that we wouldn’t accept living without heat and transportation. People who want to close access to our oil and gas resources for both national use and to trade with the world are unrealistic. Do they really want to freeze at home in the dark? Does anyone?
Please, colleagues, let’s work together to get a common sense solution to get our oil and gas resources to the markets. It is for the good of all Canadians.
Remember, the NDP government in British Columbia is a minority government. It was not supported by the majority of British Columbians. It is propped up by the Green Party, and I keep thinking how sad it would be if this unholy alliance cancels a project that would be so beneficial to all Canadians.