Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman is being both offensive and untruthful when he suggests that the federal Conservatives are the only party that can be trusted with the future of the oil sands, says the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents thousands of Alberta energy sector workers.
"The Conservatives have dropped their promise to stop raw bitumen exports to countries with lower environmental standards than Canada,” says AFL president Gil McGowan. “We can only assume that they’re now OK with exporting unprocessed bitumen, and the value-added jobs that go along with upgrading, to countries like India and China.”
In response to media reports quoting Hastman declaring that only a Conservative government can protect Alberta jobs, McGowan sent him a letter reminding him of his party’s backsliding on the issue of unprocessed bitumen exports (click here for full text of letter).
In his letter to Hastman, McGowan noted that Minister of Natural Resources Christian Paradis recently travelled to the Unites States to lobby the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. If approved, this pipeline would export hundreds of thousands of barrels of diluted bitumen south. Exporting that bitumen before it is upgraded will create thousands of jobs in the U.S., but only a few here at home.
“As an Alberta labour leader whose job it is to defend the interests of working people in the province, I'm frankly offended when Hastman and other Conservative hopefuls talk about jobs in the oil sands when their party's own policies are sending those jobs down the pipeline to places like the U.S. and perhaps China,” says McGowan.
“I'm also offended when they suggest that anyone who questions the energy industry's 'rip-it-and-ship-it' approach to development is somehow anti-oil sands," adds McGowan.
"The truth is that the vast majority of Albertans want to see development in the oil sands proceed: but they want to see that development done in a way that is as environmentally sustainable as possible and in a way that creates as many good jobs for Albertans as possible. I'm frankly tired of people like Hastman saying that everyone who doesn't parrot the line put forward by big energy companies is somehow un-Albertan. This kind of bully-boy politics just has to stop."
McGowan concluded his letter by congratulating the NDP for developing a more nuanced policy on the oil sands -- one that mirrors public concerns in Alberta about environmentally responsible development and Alberta-based job creation.
"The NDP has come a long way on their approach to the oil sands," says McGowan. "And they've done that by listening to Albertans and people who actually live and work here. Hastman should try that sometime."
Contact: Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)