For decades, an ever-increasing number of business leaders have recognized their companies’ obligations to their employees, their communities, and the environment we all share. The transition to a clean, healthy, diverse 21st century economy has begun—but it’s not without its challenges.
Unfortunately, here in Canada, debates about the validity and value of old economy projects have become highly adversarial and laden with dismissive rhetoric. Nowhere has this been more true than with respect to the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project.
A casual read of recent headlines would lead one to believe Canada’s entire economy hinges on the construction of this pipeline. It does not. Canada is already a massive, diverse economy, where sectors including real estate, manufacturing, and retail vastly overshadow the scale of the oil development and extraction industry. Yet the Government of Canada is contemplating taking over funding of the project, burdening taxpayers with significant fiscal, environmental, and ultimately social risks.
Let’s Move Forward and build a clean, healthy, diverse 21st century economy.
In recent weeks, we’ve partnered with Conversations on Responsible Economic Development (CRED), the Board of Change, and New/Mode to bring into the debate a mature, pragmatic, future-focused discussion. More than 700 businesses signed their support the Let’s Move Forward campaign and our original letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan. Now we’re inviting them—and you—to sign our new letter to Prime Minister Trudeau.
Following is the text of the letter in its entirety. Please visit the Let’s Move Forward site and sign on to voice your support.
Dear Prime Minister,
We write on behalf of a long and growing list of Canadian businesses to express our profound disagreement with your support of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion plan.
As Canadian businesses, we are deeply concerned that $2 billion might be allocated from the public purse to bail out US-based Kinder Morgan, and their ill-conceived, ill-advised project, rather than being invested in a clean energy future for Canada. We believe a clean, healthy, diverse economy is all of our business.
Subsidizing and otherwise propping up Kinder Morgan is risky and it stifles other areas of economic development such as tech, clean energy, agriculture and small businesses. We can’t put all our eggs in this basket. Kinder Morgan already benefits from billions of dollars in subsidies for their industry. We’re also already on the hook for externalized liabilities such as pollution and oil well clean up.
We are deeply troubled by the revelations of the past two weeks, indicating that the National Energy Board review process was tainted by political interference. Favouritism and opaque negotiations with any sector or business undermines the integrity of our democracy.
The economic benefits of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline are underwhelming. Job creation estimates put out by boosters of the pipeline are almost entirely short-term construction jobs. There are only 50 permanent jobs projected in BC and 40 in Alberta, according to the proponent’s documentation. We ask that you remember that jobs in oil and gas extraction totals less than three percent of overall Canadian employment, and around 12 percent of Alberta’s employment.
Meanwhile, tanker traffic on BC’s pristine and rugged coastline would increase seven- fold, significantly increasing the risk of an oil spill. Such a spill would threaten thousands of businesses in the technology, tourism, construction, film and television industries—each of which creates more jobs than oil, gas, and mining combined. They also make up the fastest growing sectors of our economy.
Research shows that a major oil spill on our coast would cost Canadian taxpayers at least $1.2 billion in direct cleanup costs and devastate coastal businesses for a decade or more. The risk is simply too high.
We applaud the Government of British Columbia for its diligence in questioning the legality of the pipeline. We call upon you, as the leader of the Government of Canada, to do the same: honour Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Finally, we recognize and affirm the leadership, rights and title of Coast Salish First Nations, including the Tsleil-Waututh. Amidst the national process of Reconciliation that you have repeatedly assured Indigenous communities is your highest priority in Government, the Government of Canada must respect the legal rights of the Coast Salish Nations. We stand in solidarity with them in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
We believe that good relationships are good for business. We urge you to listen to the thousands of businesses that are Canada’s economic future, and that say this pipeline is bad for business.
Let’s move forward, and build a clean, healthy, and diverse 21st century economy for all Canadians.
… Will you sign your name here?
Mike Rowlands is President & CEO at Junxion, and is actively involved in organizations that are supporting the development and growth of a new economy that serves the common good.