Economy and environment duel from Ottawa to Arkansas – by Tim Harper (Toronto Star – April 3, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The Harper government pushes hard for a west-east pipeline proposal as the people of Mayflower, Ark., lament lost homes.

OTTAWA—Joe Oliver strode to the microphone in the House of Commons foyer Tuesday, brimming with good news. It was all about averting our potentially “lost legacy,’’ jobs, national energy security and social programs.

We were embarking, it seemed, on the 21st century journey to the Last Spike. About 30 minutes earlier, Joe Bradley from the heretofore unheard of community of Mayflower, Ark., told the CBC radio program, The Current, of encountering about half a metre of Canadian oil sands crude running down the street in front of his house in his well-manicured community.

“I grabbed my daughter and got in the car and ran as fast as we could,’’ Bradley said. His house value is gone, he has concerns about the health of his eight-year-old daughter and he isn’t going back.

There could scarcely be a more graphic illustration in one morning of the economy versus the environment in this country’s ongoing pipeline debate.

Oliver did, indeed, have good news, with the TransCanada decision to ask for firm shipping commitments for an ambitious Alberta-to-New Brunswick pipeline, a move that has pan-political support in this country, including, it would seem, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois.

The west-east route, if finalized, would end the east coast’s dependence on imported oil, would indeed create jobs and provide a boon to financially strapped New Brunswick.

But Oliver’s good news announcement was hijacked by questions about ExxonMobil’s unexpected Easter gift for the good burghers of Mayflower.

It was, Oliver said, “A very old, more than 60-year-old U.S. pipeline’’ that ruptured in Mayflower. “It happened to be carrying Canadian crude.’’

About 15 per cent of all oil flowing underground in the U.S. comes from Canada, he said, but it is no more corrosive than other oil beneath the surface. It was just the 15 per cent factor, he said.

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