Opinion Editorial

Canadians – and New Brunswickers in particular – face a paradox. We have oil in Canada that is landlocked and inaccessible to tidewater. But at the same time, Saudi Arabia sends almost 85,000 barrels of oil to New Brunswick to be refined, every day!

As has been stated before, Energy East has the potential to be a nation-building project. Despite differing political opinions by various leaders, it is interesting to note a recent poll by the Montreal Economic Institute. Its result shows that 59 per cent of Quebecers think that Western Canada is the best place to import oil from, and that the safest means of transportation for that oil is the pipeline.

Whether one is from the west, the east or central Canada, there is an emerging consensus in the viability of pipelines.

I am convinced that the National Energy Board’s work is critical in approving and regulating pipelines. Canadians can be confident that this organization has the tools to carry out the crucial task of ensuring robust oversight and analysis.

Why are we importing so much, when we have abundance in our own country?

This is why Energy East becomes more crucial to enhancing Canada’s position in the international oil marketplace.

Claudia Cattaneo, in a recent column in the Financial Post, noted the following:

“Overall, refiners in Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and New Brunswick imported about 650,000 barrels a day from foreign producers in 2015. In addition to Saudi Arabia, the oil came from the United States, Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, because there is insufficient pipeline capacity to import it from Western Canada, which produces far more oil than it needs.”

This highlights the gravity of the situation, and the common-sense rationale for Energy East is easy to see.

Oil is and will continue to be part of the global economy for years to come. We can make a choice. We can refine the product from other countries, or we refine our own and in the process create good Canadian jobs for Atlantic Canada.

It is time to have a serious conversation about developing our resources, both in New Brunswick and across Canada. New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada can play a pivotal role in the development and export of our energy resources.

We will not tax our way to prosperity. That has never worked anywhere. We would be foolish to think it would be effective now. As I conclude, Energy East is expected to raise approximately $482 million in tax revenue for New Brunswick during the construction and development phase. These funds would help build schools, roads, hospitals and our infrastructure for a better quality of life in Atlantic Canada.

Energy East is one of the crucial steps that our province can take toward an economic renaissance. The ultimate goal is the prosperity of our people, and this nation-building project is a step worth taking.

Percy Mockler is a New Brunswick Conservative Senator.