Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s opposition to the Energy East pipeline sparked a political firestorm and ignited long-simmering regional divisions. Reactions have included everything from the perceived unfairness of equalization, to questioning the very nature of our union.
This regional polarization comes at a time when the country needs to pull together. Canada needs someone who can get beyond piecemeal regional grievances and get to work on implementing a national vision.
For example, the fact that the accountability and responsibility for approving this pipeline (and any other) is a federal jurisdiction, seems to have become irrelevant, given the number of mayors and provincial premiers who have gotten involved in the process.
And since politicians like Coderre will see little push-back from their local constituents, they are able to stir up regional grievances with knee-jerk reactions to Western Canadian oil, while Quebec imports nearly all its oil from overseas. What all of this highlights is a focus on political gamesmanship ahead of nation-building leadership.
Should this pipeline be built? That answer depends on the economics of it, which is a decision best left to the company looking to invest its own money in the project, a rigorous assessment of the environmental impact and safety of the pipeline, which is the federal government’s responsibility, as well as the landowners and aboriginal communities whose land the pipeline will travel through.
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