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Clarity regarding Green Party position on oil and pipelines

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

It is indeed unfortunate that a man of Mr. Jones’ reputation would choose to misrepresent the Green Party position on pipelines by spreading false statements as if they were fact.

Quite simply, the Green Party is not opposed to exporting oil, and is not opposed to pipelines. The Green Party recognizes that pipelines are a safer way to move oil than rail cars. The Green Party is however deeply concerned about moving bitumen overseas, because bitumen is different than other petroleum products.

Over the years, there have been many instances of tankers running aground. If the tanker was filled with unrefined product from the oil sands, the bitumen would sink to the ocean floor and cause irreparable damage. We have technology to handle surface oil spills. The technology does not yet exist to handle bitumen spills.

At the beginning of his article, Mr. Jones says that Elizabeth May “seems to be blind beyond our borders.” This statement is totally without substance. Ms. May has world wide contacts, has travelled extensively, and is well known as defending environmental, social justice and democratic best practises in all nations, including Canada.

This sweeping generalization is quite off base and is designed to set the tone for the rest of his writing. The fact that Mr. Jones uses the word “seems” many times in his column, shows the poor research and very strong negative slant that he has brought to bear on the subject – using negative innuendo rather than facts to make his case. And when, later on, Mr. Jones call Greens and NDP people “fanatics” he clearly shows his extreme bias. Did he interview or talk to anyone in the Green Party before writing this grossly incorrect and very opinionated column? Obviously not.

But perhaps Mr. Jones is simply confused – between the word “export” and “import”.

The exact wording of item 13 in the Green Party “Mission Possible” statement is as follows:

“13 - Turn off the tap to oil imports

End all imports of foreign oil. As fossil fuel use declines, use only Canadian fossil fuels and allow investment in upgraders to turn Canadian solid bitumen into gas, diesel, propane and other products for the Canadian market, providing jobs in Alberta. By 2050, shift all Canadian bitumen from fuel to feedstock for the petrochemical industry.”

This is a strategic statement, designed to maximize the use of Canadian oil, and prevent Canada from being subject to uncertainties of oil coming from countries that either are unstable, or may become unstable. The upgrader(s) would create value added industry in Alberta, so that we have a more refined product for use in Canada and for export.

Finally, this policy statement is designed to set the stage for the inevitable decline in the use of oil. We all know we have to stop burning this non-renewable resource, and yet as much as possible, let’s try to maintain oil industry jobs. To do this we need to start the shift towards using petroleum products for something more valuable, such as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. It is hard to see how one could object to this vision of the future.

Bruce McCulloch, P. Eng, 2013 and 2018 Cumberland South Green Party candidate

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