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Will pipelines be the future of Canada?

The Energy East Pipeline is a go - the project is moving ahead. Well, not so fast.

The Energy East Pipeline is a go - the project is moving ahead.

Well, not so fast.

Listening to what TransCanada, the company proposing the project, and the majority of Canadian politicians have been saying, it definitely seems the pipeline, dubbed “an exercising in nation-building”, will soon be pumping millions of litres of Alberta oilsands eastward.

But before we all jump on the proposed project’s bandwagon, it should be noted there is a lot that has to take place before the rhetoric turns to fact and Energy East becomes a reality.

Eventually a real decision will be made on whether or not to proceed with a pipeline project that promises to produce jobs, wealth and an expanded oil market for one of Canada’s most abundant resources. But before that decision is made, based on current regulations, all aspects of the project must be explored and an assessment made whether this project really is in the best interest of Canadians, the environment and society as a whole.

Ostensibly, Energy East would be a positive for the country, providing oil to Eastern Canada, temporary construction jobs, and a diversified oil market for Alberta.

However, for the most part these positives will benefit oil companies and their profits, as well as the politicians gaining political capital pushing something many Canadians will apathetically accept.

Certainly, in communities like Bonnyville and Cold Lake, there will be some trickle-down effect, with improved infrastructure, along the lines of what we’ve seen over the past decade. But expanding the oilsands also brings housing hardships for many struggling to get by as it is.

A project like this can also do harm to the notion that our reliance on oilsands production and development is unsustainable and unhealthy and should gradually be reduced, while the funding of and focus on developing alternative energies should gradually be expanded.

Perhaps a project like this could have been dubbed a nation-builder two decades ago. But we are now in a position where we can make enlightened decisions about our future. Alternatives to fossil fuels are not only a reality but also increasingly accessible and becoming affordable for more people.

Do Canadians really want to be known for giant, cross-province, oil-carrying pipelines, which in many areas of the world we already are? Or do we want to shake that stereotype and work with nature and the environment towards a sustainable and healthy future for us now, and for generations to come?

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