February 13, 2018 6:12 pm

Danielle Smith: Anti-oilsands marketing campaign only helps U.S. oil interests

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project's Westeridge loading dock is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
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We are 10 years behind in the marketing campaign for Alberta oil, and I am beginning to worry it is too late to turn the tide. Look at this email I got yesterday:

“You really think you know what is good for us British Columbians; wow. Do you really think we are going to let you Albertans turn our beautiful B.C. into the cesspool that Alberta is now?

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Think again. Tar Sands are the worst environmental nightmare this world has ever seen. I really wish you could keep your uneducated opinions about B.C. to yourself. We are doing fine without Alberta’s oil, thank you very much. Respectfully, Eduardo.”

Well, respectfully Eduardo, if you are so worried about cesspools why not do some advocacy with your own government to stop dumping raw sewage into Victoria’s harbor? Or advocate that they do something about the 1800 abandoned mining sites leaching acid and heavy metals into British Columbia’s rivers?

As for the “worst environmental nightmare this world has ever seen”: I think the uninhabitable Chernobyl might win that prize.

You must be wondering why it is that Alberta’s oilsands seem to be the only environmental issue so-called environmentalists care about. There is one reason and one reason only: marketing.

If you want to know why we have come under attack while other environmental issues barely warrant a mention, you just have to follow the money.

LISTEN: Vivian Krause shares what her thoughts on pipelines and the Alberta-B.C. trade war

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Vivian Krause has been following the money for years. She first discovered the role of big U.S. money in funding Canadian environmental groups when she was researching efforts against the B.C. salmon fishery. That led her to something called the “Tarsands Campaign,” which started out in 2008 as a campaign to choke off the supply of oil to the United States and force U.S. consumers off of petroleum.

After the U.S. shale oil boom, it morphed into a deliberate effort to land lock Alberta’s resources to prevent us from getting the international selling price for our oil.

Fortunately, there are at least some British Columbians who are rejecting the build nothing anywhere model.

The Eagle Spirit indigenous energy company has, for years, been working on an alternative route to build an energy corridor to the coast. Their preference would be to build a terminal in Lax Kw’alaams, just north of the port of Prince Rupert. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a bill to ban tanker traffic on the B.C. coast. So they are having to consider a workaround.

First, they are raising money for a legal challenge to defeat the bill. Second, they are looking at another route that would terminate 25 km further north into Hyder, Alaska to build their $1 billion terminal.

The CEO of the project, Calvin Helin, told me his initial conversations with American decision-makers have been very promising. If it gets built, it will transport one million barrels a day in crude and also offer a right of way for other projects such as LNG, fibre optics, electricity and other utilities.

LISTEN: Danielle talks to Calvin Helin, president and chairman of Eagle Spirit Energy

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I hope it gets built because that would be fantastic for Eagle Spirit and for Alberta energy producers. But it will be a sad commentary on the state of our country if that’s how it goes.

If Alberta and B.C. can’t work together for our collective economic and environmental interests, we will have failed as a country. Section 121 of the Canadian Constitution Act 1867 states: “All articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of any one of the provinces shall, from and after the union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces.”

You’d never know it, would you?

Canadian environmentalists have become the pawns of U.S. corporate oil interests. I can understand why Americans would want that. But, I still don’t understand why Canadians would.

Danielle Smith can be reached at danielle@770chqr.com

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