AFL on witness stand at Northern Gateway hearings; President available to speak to media after testimony ends
Edmonton – AFL President Gil McGowan resumes his time on the witness stand today at the National Energy Board hearings in Edmonton, at the Westwood Conference Centre, 18035 Stony Plain Road.
McGowan is expected to deliver evidence until this afternoon and will be available to the media when he is finished.
The AFL opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline because it is designed to ship unrefined bitumen to China. Thousands of good jobs in refining and upgrading will be lost down the pipeline; the project is therefore not in Canada's public interest.
"Northern Gateway is not Canadian infrastructure. It is Chinese infrastructure," says McGowan.
"Enbridge compared this pipeline to the Canada Pacific Railway. It is certainly a nation-building project; it is certainly designed to guarantee energy security, but it will do those things for China, not Canadians," adds McGowan.
Northern Gateway will connect Chinese-owned oil sands production in Northern Alberta with refineries in China via the pipeline and oil tankers through Kitimat, BC. The National Energy Board must assess whether the project is in the public interest, and is empowered to reject the proposal under the broad definition of the "public interest" contained in Section 52 of the National Energy Board Act.
"The oil industry has told us this pipeline is about chasing a higher price for bitumen in Asia.
"The benefits are only for big, foreign-owned oil companies. Canadians lose the jobs and the industry. Northern Gateway makes northern Alberta into China's gas tank," says McGowan. McGowan adds that federal and provincial governments ought to cooperate to create refining jobs across Canada, and support pipelines that reach "our east, not the Far East."
The Northern Gateway pipeline creates only 224 permanent jobs and about 1,850 short-term construction jobs. Upgrading and refining those resources in Canada would create tens of thousands of permanent jobs.
"Evidence submitted to the NEB shows that if this pipeline is built, in addition to all the other bitumen pipelines that have already been approved, Alberta will only be upgrading 26 percent of its bitumen in 2025, down from about 60 percent today," says McGowan.
"That means that tens of thousands of quality jobs will be lost down the pipeline to places like China. Oil companies and the Chinese government may be happy with this situation. But this is clearly not in the best interest of ordinary working Canadians."
For more information or to arrange for an interview with AFL President Gil McGowan, after he is finished delivering evidence, contact:
Shannon Phillips at 403-330-9878