Sherry Cooper: We can’t say no to Northern Gateway, Financial Post
I’m not so sure. Today, more than ever before, it is imperative that Canadian oil sands product reaches tidewater and emerging international markets, such as Asia. As it stands now, Canada simply doesn’t have sufficient pipeline capacity to get our oil to the highest-paying markets. This lack of infrastructure means potential buyers are going elsewhere. How does that add up? Canada lost $25-billion in oil revenue in 2012 and another $20-billion last year, and stands to lose an estimated $15-billion every year that comes and goes without expanding our pipeline network. Canada’s only current international oil customer, the United States, is ramping up its own oil production dramatically, in part through shale oil, making it even more vital that we find safe ways to reach new markets. Some experts predict growing U.S. supply will eliminate the need to import Canadian oil at all. While that is unlikely, the growth in U.S. demand for Canadian oil will certainly slow significantly. Northern Gateway not only satisfied all of these requirements but also went far above and beyond. Never before has an infrastructure project undergone this amount of scrutiny and consultation . The regulatory process for Northern Gateway has been the most rigorous and thorough of its kind in Canadian history. During its assessment of the project, an independent Joint Review Panel reviewed more than 175,000 pages of evidence, heard testimony from more than 80 expert witnesses and 1,100 Canadians, and presided over 180 days of hearing in 21 communities. The combined power of this economic activity means Canada will have more resources at its disposal to fund important health, education and social programs, which will be felt by Canadians coast to coast Fortunately, the government ultimately came to the same conclusion as the independent panel: that the project can be developed without significant risk to the environment and will be in the public’s best interest. So how do we quantify that public interest in purely economic terms? The numbers are significant. More than $300-billion in gross domestic product over 30 years. Roughly $4.3-billion of labour-related income during construction. At least 1,150 long-term jobs throughout the Canadian economy, nearly half of which will be in B.C. And $2.6-billion in tax revenues to be divided by local, provincial and federal governments. Benefits from the project will flow to every province and territory in the country. We all have a stake in this. The combined power of this economic activity means Canada will have more resources at its disposal to fund important health, education and social programs, which will be felt by Canadians coast to coast. Northern Gateway’s potential contributions to Canada’s economy and social fabric should be anything but controversial. Projects like Northern Gateway promise to strengthen our entire country come along too infrequently to pass up. After all of the research, all of the discussion and all of the evidence indicating this project can be built safely, Canada simply can’t afford not to seize this opportunity. By approving Northern Gateway, the federal government is helping ensure the future prosperity of Canada. National Post Sherry Cooper is financial advisor to MDC Partners Inc. and former executive vice-president and chief economist at Bank of Montreal.