Stop Pipeline Construction and the Export of Natural Resources

April 13, 2012, 5:00 PM EST

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Delegate after delegate urged all CAW locals to support the campaign of CEP and other progressive Canadian organizations to stop construction of pipelines to export raw bitumen from western Canada.

In addition they called for the development of a progressive national energy strategy for Canada to be based on concepts promoting the use of Canada's natural resources for sustainable economic development.

This national energy strategy would feature policies that maximize Canadian content in mining, processing and refining Canadian resources. Delegates unanimously approved a recommendation on the issue.

CEP President Dave Coles, who was a guest at CAW Council, said a key national energy issue for Canadians is the lack of a pipeline from Alberta to anywhere in Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes. As a result oil and gas must be imported to eastern Canada, he said.

Coles stressed that the export of bitumen from Western Canada has killed tens of thousands of Canadian jobs which would have existed if the bitumen were refined in Canada.

"We need to have access for the majority of the citizens of Canada to the oil and gas of the west," Coles said.

Despite the Harper government's push for a northern pipeline to B.C.'s coast, it will never be built, Coles stressed. He said CEP members don't support the export of raw bitumen to foreign countries and that a strong and growing coalition of First Nations, small business, labour and other progressive groups are determined to stop its construction.

CAW British Columbia Area Director Susan Spratt said if a single ship carrying raw bitumen were to go down along Canada's west coast, it would destroy the fisheries. She stressed that B.C. First Nations, progressive groups and British Columbians in general are totally opposed to the construction of a pipeline to the west coast.

"We need to build refineries in B.C. and Alberta and keep these jobs in Canada," said Spratt.

CAW Economist Jim Stanford blasted the Harper Conservatives for pushing policies that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of good jobs in manufacturing, tourism and other economic sectors.

There is no doubt that Harper's strategy for the Canadian economy is to dig out natural resources like western oil and gas as fast as possible and export it for refinement faster than ever, Stanford said.

But Stanford stressed that the rapid export of natural resources drives up the value of the Canadian dollar which at the same time destroys other sectors of the economy like manufacturing, exports, and tourism that flourish under a properly valued Canadian dollar.

He said Canadians must demand that jobs and investment used to extract our natural resources is done in a careful and sustained manner that benefits the Canadian economy and creates Canadian jobs.

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