Fact-checking supporting arguments for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, the debate so far today has been contaminated by so many claims that are contrafactual. In other words, the facts are clear, but the conversation in this place is ignoring them.

For instance, the claim was made that shipping bitumen is safer in a pipeline. The opposite is true.

When the question at issue is the safety of pipelines versus trains, the critical point is to know what product is being shipped. If it is Bakken shale, which is what blew up in Lac-Mégantic, it is clear it should not be on a train, but solid bitumen can only be put in a pipeline once it has been made more dangerous by adding diluent, which doubles the shipment times as a result of making it into a substance that can flow. Diluted bitumen in a pipeline, once spilled, cannot be cleaned up, but solid bitumen on a train is the safest way to move solid bitumen. That is relevant to the first non-fact.

The second non-fact is the idea that diluted bitumen can be cleaned up. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley already mentioned this point, but let me point out two incontrovertible scientific studies that were ignored by the National Energy Board.

I intervened in the National Energy Board process. The process was flawed from the get-go by lack of procedural fairness and the abuse of the rights of intervenors in that process, and the courts will rule on that. However, I do need to say that the National Academy of Sciences in the United States—their premier scientific body—and the Royal Society of Canada expert panel both found that bitumen mixed with diluent does not, at this point, have any science to justify the claim that it can be cleaned up. It cannot. It still is not cleaned up in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, and no matter how much we now hear from Liberals what we used to hear from Conservatives, the very well-modulated Kennedyesque tones do not make non-facts into facts.

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to be able to put a question to my friend from Cariboo—Prince George. He is my friend. I do not say that merely as a nicety. We are friends. However, I do not agree with him that this project is in the national interest.

It is important for Canadians to know that when the National Energy Board reviewed the Kinder Morgan project, it refused to hear evidence from Unifor, the largest union representing workers in the oil sands. It refused to hear evidence from Unifor, because the National Energy Board ruled that jobs and the economy were outside its mandate in reviewing the project. Therefore, it cannot be said that the economic impact of this project has been reviewed.

It is interesting to know that what Unifor wanted to present to the National Energy Board was evidence that the Trans Mountain pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s expansion, would hurt Canadian jobs and cost Canadian jobs.

I would ask my hon. colleague if he does not agree with me that we should follow the plan for the expansion and development of the oil sands that came from Peter Lougheed. That was the era when the idea was put forward that Alberta’s economy would benefit from mining bitumen and processing it in Alberta. The reason this will cost Canadian jobs, according to Unifor, is that shipping raw bitumen to refineries in other countries will hurt Canadian jobs and actually lead to the closing of the Chevron refinery in Burnaby, because it does not have the capacity to process raw bitumen.

Why do the Conservatives prefer creating jobs in other countries, in refineries in other countries, rather than processing the material and creating jobs in Alberta?


Todd Doherty – Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague mentioned, she is a friend, and from time to time, her interventions are interesting and well thought out. I always enjoy listening to her in the House.

I cannot speak to the comments Unifor made and its position on Kinder Morgan. I will not speak to that. I vehemently dispute my hon. colleague’s assertion that Conservatives are all about shipping jobs overseas and closures and whatever the question was insinuating. Clearly, the Conservatives are all about free trade and making sure that our suppliers and producers in Canada are able to access every market possible, creating not just jobs but great-paying jobs right here in Canada, and ensuring that our products get to market. Whether at home or abroad, Conservatives are all about—



Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my hon. colleague, as the member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands where my constituents are overwhelmingly against this project, I intervened before the National Energy Board on their behalf. I went through all 23,000 pages of so-called evidence from Kinder Morgan and I will say without a shadow of a doubt, most of what is being claimed in the House is nonsense. There was no rigorous review. There was no rigorous science. What science exists was rejected by the National Energy Board as coming too late in the process and therefore unfair to Kinder Morgan to accept.

The overwhelming evidence is that bitumen mixed with diluents cannot be cleaned up. Therefore, having a wonderful, so-called world-class oil spill response program is nonsense when there is no technology known by science, including Canada’s premier scientific academy, the Royal Society of Canada, to deal with a substance that separates in a marine environment with bitumen sinking and the volatile diluents, which include benzene which is cancer causing, entering the atmosphere. We literally have no technology to clean this stuff up.

Would my hon. friend from New Brunswick and the federal Liberals be willing to wait so that a decent, rigorous environmental review can be done by the Government of British Columbia?


TJ Harvey – Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I completely 100% respect my hon. colleague’s concerns. What is important about the environment we have here in the House is that we can have robust discussions about a variety of topics recognizing that we are not always going to completely agree with each other’s opinions. I do not completely agree with my hon. colleague’s opinions. The reason is that we have done our due diligence. We have recognized the potential of this project given its merits. We have taken into consideration the effects on indigenous communities. We have consulted with indigenous communities. We have consulted with the people of British Columbia.

The National Energy Board has done its due diligence and approved this project. It is our responsibility to respect that decision and recognize the economic potential that we could have from this project, while taking into consideration the effects on the environment and the communities in that area.

I am really proud to say that I am part of a government that has taken those into consideration. I sit on the natural resources committee with hon. colleagues from both sides of the House and we have had robust discussions over the last year about the process and about consulting with Canadians and indigenous communities. I am happy to say that I think that within our committee we have come to a lot of general agreements across party lines. That speaks not only to the strength of this government and our approach but also to the strength of committees.