With the eyes of Canada on remote Kitamaat Village at the start of hearings on the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline, an editorial in the local newspaper says the oil companies should look elsewhere. Kitimat Northern Sentinel endorses a suggestion that the oil companies ship Alberta oil through Eastern Canada to Asia.
The suggestion comes from an op-ed article last month in The Globe and Mail by Derek Burney, a former chief of staff of Brian Mulroney, and Eddie Goldenberg, a former chief of staff of Jean Chrétien. The two political advisers wrote that reversing the flow in existing pipelines could be done with few regulatory hurdles.
The newspaper says the suggestion would enable producers to deliver their oil to market much quicker than waiting for approval for a Western route. "If reversing the flow is as easy as Burney and Goldenberg suggest, the decision looks like a no-brainer," the editorial says.
Thirteen hundred kilometres away from the hearings, the Kelowna Daily Courier says the pipeline is a bad idea for British Columbia.
"It's not a matter of if an oil spill will occur, but rather, when. And when it does happen, which of the 700-plus waterways that must be crossed between Alberta's oil sands and Kitimat will be fouled? Should the crude make it safely to port, the pristine coastline of B.C.'s narrow and treacherous Inside Passage would be under threat from oil tanker traffic," the newspaper says.
The economic activity and jobs the project would create are undeniable, the paper adds. "But so is the pipeline industry's woeful track record. . . B.C.'s Oil and Gas Commission reported 37 incidents in 2009, including 21 leaks, the largest involving 2,500 cubic metres of contaminated water. On top of that miserable history, an audit by the federal commissioner of environment and sustainable development found 64 per cent of pipeline companies deficient in complying with National Energy Board regulations. And, when gaps were found, the NEB only followed up with the companies to fix the problem seven per cent of the time," the paper says.
"B.C.'s treasured natural beauty should not be put at risk based on such shoddy past performance," the newspaper says.
The Vernon Morning Star offered a perspective about provincial politics that may also ring true in the pipeline debate - negative attack ads are more acceptable if they are delivered with panache and creativity. An editorial looks at a website created by BC Liberals to blame NDP leader Adrian Dix for everything that went wrong in the province in the 1990s during the NDP reign.
The attack "shows the party is obviously extremely concerned about losing the next election to the NDP," the newspaper says. "The New Democrats, conversely, scored big-time with their clever, witty and wickedly funny TV commercial last year featuring "Christy Crunch" cereal. That may have been an attack ad, but at least it was one with panache and creativity."
Raise welfare rates, says the Nanaimo News Bulletin. The rate of $610 a month would be a financial windfall if you already have a roof over your head and three meals a day. But if's not much if you do not have adequate housing and food.
"While providing a "handout" to those needy individuals may chafe those working hard to make a living, you need to look at what it "buys," the newspaper says. "It helps deliver a measure of dignity to someone who has fallen on hard times. It allows them to not be totally left behind and forgotten. It's a safety net to offer protection and time for a person to hopefully work their way toward a better future," the paper says without pinpointing the size of the increase. "The actual increase is a matter for a mix of politicians and social agencies to decide upon. But up it should go."
Meanwhile, in federal politics:
Hiking the cost of seeking a federal pardon to $631 from the current charge of $150 is unreasonable, says an editorial in the Kamloops Daily News. A pardon offers people who made bad choices at some point in their lives a shot at a clean slate by sealing their records for most purposes, the paper says.
"Having served penance for their crime — be it through community service, probation or time in jail — these people are supposed to have already paid their debt to society," the paper says. The Parole Board of Canada expects the number of applicants seeking a pardon will drop to 15,000, from the current level of 28,000.
"By putting the cost of a pardon so out of reach for many . . . government is dooming a lot of people with already limited opportunities. A decent job is a powerful tool in setting people on the right path and keeping pardons fees attainable helps level the playing field for all – including those who need a second chance most," the paper says.