Ontario Senator Bob Runciman

Senator Bob Runciman

At a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, the Committee heard from a number of witnesses who were opposed to all pipeline development and want oil to stay in the ground. Responding to the witnesses’ comments, Ontario Senator Bob Runciman noted that their position “encourages a lot of anger in Western Canada and in other parts of this country and it’s a very short‑sighted.”

I couldn’t agree more. Read what Senator Runciman said below:

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 2, 2016

Senator Runciman:  You talked about consultation and during this process we’ve heard about social licence as well as consultation.  We’re talking about a pipeline but, essentially, consultation, and you can criticize the committee for what you see as its failings in terms of consultation but your view is set in any event that you want the oil to stay in the ground.  And we’re listening to your views on that, but I wonder if there is an appreciation within your organization and amongst others that in the West this is viewed as a national unity issue.  I don’t think there is any question about that.

If you look at something like equalization and Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, in year 2014‑15, New Brunswick received an equalization of $1.7 billion.  That’s $2,200 per person in New Brunswick and much of that comes from Alberta and revenue generated by the industry that you’re essentially condemning here.  So I think hopefully you can understand the frustration of a great many Canadians in Western Canada with what is essentially your reliance on western prosperity while at the same time you’re condemning the source of that prosperity.

From my perspective, perhaps the focus should be on if the pipeline goes ahead ‑‑ I personally support the pipeline ‑‑ and if we can help you in any way, shape or form to address the issues surrounding the tank farm, the marine terminal, benzene levels in St. John’s and those kinds of issues I have no difficulty with.  But to simply say “keep the oil in the ground,” that’s not for the benefit of Canadians.  I think it encourages a lot of anger in Western Canada and in other parts of this country and it’s a very short‑sighted.