There is a way the economically vital Energy East pipeline gets built; one that requires time, patience, forbearance, a willingness to consider other points of view, a collective sense of national responsibility, a … oh never mind. We’re doomed. Prepare ye the straw bale house with composting toilet.
Let’s squeeze on our re-imagining caps and visualize, for a moment, how this might work out.
We begin by reminding ourselves that completion of a transnational oil pipeline is of vital strategic interest to every Canadian. The Conference Board of Canada pulled together the relevant data in a voluminous report in 2012, called Fuel for Thought: The Economic Benefits of Oil Sands Developments for Canada’s Regions. In the years since I have not heard or read of any persuasive argument to contradict either the report’s data or its central conclusions.
In a nutshell: $100 billion was invested in the oil sands between 2002 and 2012, with an additional $364 billion in price-adjusted investment to come by 2035. There are significant supply-chain spinoffs in every province, including Quebec — in professional services, manufacturing, wholesale trade, financial services and manufacturing, among other industries — with the greatest direct benefits for any province outside Alberta accruing in Ontario.
The taxes? Ah, but the taxes: Between 2012 and 2035, the oil sands will yield $80 billion in tax revenue on an inflation-adjusted basis, the study estimated, with $45.3 billion of that federal. That’s enough, back of the envelope, to pay for Canada’s entire new Navy and Coast Guard ($34 billion budgeted), plus new Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jets ($9 billion budgeted), with change left over for pizza.
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