Time to 'set aside petty politics' on energy plan, Nenshi says
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 5:18PM EST
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says it’s time to “set aside the petty politics” and establish a plan for getting Canadian energy products to world markets.
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play Wednesday, Nenshi said his city is “more dependent on energy” than ever, and growth in Calgary and across the provinceof Alberta “is to the point where we’ve reached critical mass.”
But the tool for coping with that growth is exporting energy abroad, he says, and there isn’t a single best option for getting that energy to port.
“We need access for Canadian energy to world markets. That access has to be what I call a Canadian version of Obama’s ‘all of the above’ strategy. We need access to the Pacific, access to the Gulf Coast, access to the Atlantic, and certainly that doesn’t mean that the Northern Gateway, for example, is the right answer to get to the Pacific Ocean,” Nenshi told Power Play.
“We have to start with a policy imperative for all of Canada: that Canadian energy needs to be able to get those Asian markets to ensure the future of prosperity of the whole country. And it’s time for us to set aside the petty politics and decide how we can do that.”
Nenshi’s comments come a day before a federal review panel is expected to release its recommendation on the proposed $6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline after more than a year of consultations in both Alberta and British Columbia.
The 1,200-kilometre pipeline would carry Alberta oil through northern B.C. to a port in Kitimat, where it can be loaded onto tankers and shipped to markets in Asia. The project is facing stiff opposition from environmental groups and First Nations communities over fears of a devastating oil spill.
If the National Energy Board panel approves the project, it can include any number of conditions that must be met in order for it to go ahead. After the report is released, the federal government has 180 days to decide whether to greenlight the project.
Earlier Wednesday, in an end-of-year press conference on Parliament Hill, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the project should never have made it to a review panel.
"Allowing supertankers into the Douglas Channel is madness and it should not take place," Mulcair said. "It's a non-starter. We should never even have sent this thing to a study."
He said he recognizes that energy development is a boon to Canada’s economy and there is a need to get energy products to market. But he says an east-west pipeline is a better option, if it passes a strict environmental review.
Calgary vulnerable to 'repeat' flood
Meanwhile, Nenshi said his city “absolutely” remains vulnerable to another devastating flood that hit the city in June, although he said it is “hard to imagine” the same set of circumstances occurring again.
He said city staff are working hard make Calgary a “flood-resilient city,” including building better dry dams upstream from the city and stronger water-management systems.
Staff are also investigating a proposal to build a large tunnel underneath a significant portion of south Calgary, between the Elbow and the Bow River.
When asked about his widely praised leadership during the disaster, Nenshi said it was important that he not panic during “what the Insurance Bureau of Canada has now called the greatest natural disaster in Canadian history.”
“I’ve got to tell you, when I saw my colleagues at the City of Calgary -- the police officers, the social workers and everything in between -- and the incredible commitment and dedication that they were serving and the hours they were putting in and how they were treating citizens, how could I not be inspired by that and how could I not push myself to be at the same level as all of them?”
But to those who think Nenshi plans to use his profile to jump to provincial or federal politics, Nenshi said “no.”
“I am much too cheap to force an expensive by-election based on my own political desires, and that’s just outside of my value system,” he said.
“People elected me to do this job for four years, so Calgarians for better or for worse are stuck with me at least until October 2017….I’ve got the best political job in Canada, why in the world would I take that demotion?”