Prime Minister of Canada approves Pipeline to Pacific Coast: Oil and Geopolitics
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The government of Canada faces the envious task of further developing the energy capacity of this nation – to meet new international markets – while taking on board the genuine concerns of environmentalists and listening to various indigenous groups. This reality can be seen in the approval of one pipeline while rejecting another on the grounds of threatening the natural environment. Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the middle ground in the hope of placating the powerful energy sector, while not seeming aloof from the liberal policies he pledges.
Alberta is blessed with enormous oil reserves and because of growing technology then oil sands production is available to export to new markets. Indeed, the oil reserves of this part of Canada are known to have the third highest reserves in the world. However, the required infrastructure to tap into exporting oil sands still needs to be developed based on having the political stamp of approval.
After careful considerations, Trudeau decided to give the go-ahead for the Trans Mountain pipeline project. If this development actually takes place because environmentalists will oppose this project, then suddenly the oil exports of Canada will become international. After all, currently nearly all of the oil exports of this nation go to America.
Trudeau, who equally seeks to expand the influence of Canada internationally, will most likely be thinking of an even bigger picture than energy. In other words, the geopolitical clout of the proposed oil sands of Alberta being exported to the Pacific Coast will equally be important for Trudeau. Of course, the economic angle is the main concern but this overlaps with new exports to China and further afield.
Hence, the geopolitical dimension of Trudeau’s politics because he wants to utilize international institutions in order to put Canada firmly on the map. In other words, Canada is hoping to play a more international role through the mechanisms of the United Nations and other major global institutions. Yet, the environmental angle to developing the natural resources of Canada means that Trudeau must play a fine balancing act.
Associated Press focuses on the dilemma facing Trudeau by reporting, “He approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia, but rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C.”
Trudeau says, “The project will triple our capacity to get Canadian energy resources to international markets beyond the United States… We took this decision today because we believe it is in the best interests of Canada.”
Trudeau rejected the other major project, the Northern Gateway, because of the natural environment and risks that could threaten a delicate area based on any disaster. This applies to the Great Bear Rainforest and other areas of vulnerability, for example, the deep ocean inlets. Therefore, Trudeau rejected this project that will please environmentalists and core voters who elected him based on principles he espoused.
Trudeau said, “The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic.”
It remains to be seen how developments will arise because strong opposition to the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline will be met be stiff resistance. This notably applies to environmentalists who will be up in arms and leaders within the various indigenous communities. However, unlike the previous Conservative government that was equally embroiled in energy, environmental, and indigenous concerns – it could well be that Trudeau is more politically astute.
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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