Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong told the Amherst Rotary Club recently that the northern region of Nova Scotia should benefit from the Lower Churchill energy project that will transport hydroelectric power from Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia and on to markets in New Brunswick and the United States via undersea cables.
Armstrong is right that there will be benefits for Nova Scotia from the $6.2 billion deal, and he is right that it will help this province free itself from dependence on coal by replacing it with a greener source of energy, appropriately pointing to the tidal energy developments near Parrsboro as another player in this effort.
But where the MP veered off into fantasyland is when he compared the project to the oilsands in Alberta, saying it would rival the oil industry there in energy production. The 824 megawatts of power generated from Muskrat Falls is not likely to put anyone out of work in Alberta, where the oilsands are producing more than 1.31 million barrels of oil per day.
Yes, it is important to find greener energy sources, and these projects are vital to the future of our province. But where they are paling in comparison to Alberta is employment. In 2009, about 136,200 people were directly employed in the mining, oil and gas extraction sector in Alberta, and those numbers are expected to rise as production increases in the coming years.
Aside from the temporary jobs created by the setup of transmission lines and other infrastructure, which is expected to total about 47,800 over six years and will mostly be in Newfoundland, the Lower Churchill project will not match the kind of employment numbers that we see in Alberta.
This project is a very positive development for Atlantic Canada and the country, but let’s keep political hyperbole in check here.