Martin Barker’s vain attempt to justify the Conservative party’s obsession with diluted bitumen export misses one key point: Canada does not need to burden future generations with the costs of a one in 200 year oil spill in order to improve our standard of living today.
The truth is that our decade and a half oil sands orgy has masked the hollowing out of the Canadian manufacturing sector, leaving the Canadian economy overly dependent on a high oil prices. As a small businessman, Mr. Barker should understand a diversified investment portfolio is the best long term approach to building wealth. He should also know the same diversification principle holds true for developing a national economy. But sadly, his Conservative Party is still completely obsessed with expanding diluted bitumen export.
It is baffling to me why he would support the Harper government’s agenda that would see us double down on the price of oil at a time when a low carbon global economy is at our doorstep.
Investment in additional diluted bitumen export infrastructure is a gross misallocation of Canada’s human, environmental, and financial capital. What Canada needs a national industrial strategy that will unleash the creative potential of its citizens — not condemn them to careers of fly in, fly out drudgery in extractive industries.
To build our economy of the future, we need the exact opposite of the Martin Barker/Harper government agenda. We need federal support for research and development of new technologies and processes to maximize the value extracted in Canada per barrel of oil; we need federal support for new value added industries; we need a national renewable energy strategy backed up by federal investment supports and robust carbon pricing; we need major investment in public infrastructure and energy conservation retrofitting; we need reconciliation with First Nations; and we need long term supports for small business, working families, and education so that Canadians who give a damn can be free to develop our country in a diverse and sustainable fashion — a concept that is truly foreign to Harper Conservatives like Martin Barker.
A truly sustainable economy is at hand — no additional pipelines or tankers necessary.