Next federal election a pipeline showdown

As most expected, the federal government announced its conditional approval to Enbridge’s proposal to build the Northern Gateway pipeline on Tuesday.

Enbridge must still meet 209 conditions in order to build the $7 billion project that would send northern Alberta bitumen through to a new super-tanker port at Kitimat. And, of course, there’s the litany of opponents who were quick to issue their own pronouncements against the pipeline, including promises to fight the development with all their might.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made no secret of his government’s financial vision for Canada, the backbone of which is transporting Alberta crude to one of three coasts for shipment overseas. Energy East, which would head from Alberta eastward through Quebec to New Brunswick on the Atlantic Ocean, the Keystone XL Pipeline through the central United States to the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Gateway are major planks in this administration’s future economic platform.

Immediately, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau vowed that Northern Gateway would not happen should either of them form government in 2015.

Many First Nations officials also objected, though a secondary proposal to construct the pipeline by the Aquilini Group and Eagle Spirit Energy, comprised of several First Nations, was brought forward in April.

Thus the battle lines are drawn.

We know what the next election will be focused on.

Without question, the 2015 election will be fought over Northern Gateway.

A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the pipeline. A vote for the NDP or Liberals is a vote against.

Interestingly enough, most political pundits agree that provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix effectively blew last year’s election over his mid-stump pronouncement against the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver.

It is strongly believed that Dix lost the support of his traditional labour support instantly.

Online polling is a dubious marker of true public opinion, and increasingly becomes an unreliable gauge of true public sentiment. Recent elections have proven that. With professional fundraisers, an influx of financial backing from the U.S. and media-savvy special interest groups involved, it is very difficult to determine if the majority of British Columbians are for or against this pipeline.

We will hear much about it, for and against, in the next year and a half, and then it’s off to the polls. There is much at stake, including the jobs of many Vancouver Islanders. The pipeline vote is about our future.

Vancouver Island NewsMedia Group