Canadian politicians have been acting against the interests of their own citizens in pitching the Keystone XL pipeline, says the leader of Alberta's largest labour organization.
"Members of the Alberta and federal governments have been acting like sales executives for pipeline company TransCanada, travelling to the U.S. to persuade Americans what a great idea the raw bitumen pipeline will be, but they are ignoring what's best for Alberta and Canada," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 145,000 workers.
"Approving Keystone XL will, indeed, be good for the U.S. by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs south of the border, but one must wonder why our so-called leaders are so keen to export jobs to the U.S. rather than keep them here," he says.
McGowan joined leaders from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada in Ottawa today to tell MPs why Canada should oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and keep refining jobs here. (See background document presented to MPs.)
Study after study shows that Keystone XL will create a jobs boom for the U.S. The Canadian Energy Research Institute predicts 465,000 U.S jobs by 2035; a study for the American Petroleum Institute puts the figure at 270,000 U.S. jobs by 2030; and the Perryman Group says there will be between 250,348 and 553,235 U.S. jobs depending on the price of oil.
"The jobs picture for Canada is much bleaker. Keystone's existing pipeline created only 17 permanent jobs in Canada. Keystone XL will add only about a dozen permanent jobs here. We have a one-time chance to take control of our own resources and build a value-added refining industry here. What we have instead is a mad rush to approve every application to develop the oil sands and ship our raw resources and good jobs down the pipeline," says McGowan.
"Alberta and Canada would benefit much more if the raw bitumen was refined in Alberta. This would have several important benefits: It would create real jobs here, not in the U.S. and they would be well-paying, value-added jobs; it would boost revenue for Canadian governments in taxes on income and profits earned here; it would reduce the environmental risk from shipping raw bitumen over long distances and across sensitive areas; and it would allow Canada and Alberta to set and enforce tough environmental regulations on oil sands operations," he says.
"This, however, would require a real national energy strategy, a vision for developing Canada's energy industry for the benefit of Canadians, rather than allowing corporations to dictate policy that works only for them. It would mean slowing down development of the oil sands to a reasonable pace, to avoid the boom-and-bust rollercoaster of the past. In this way, we could ensure jobs for Canadians for decades to come and avoid the shortages of material and labour that have boosted development costs in the past."
MEDIA CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888