Green Party accuses Alberta government of misleading Canadians in Trans Mountain campaign

WATCH ABOVE (Feb. 24, 2019): Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi said consultations with Indigenous groups should wrap up within 90 days, allowing the government to make a decision on whether and how the Trans Mountain expansion should proceed.

Green Party of Canada’s leader is calling out Alberta’s government for its advertising campaign of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Elizabeth May says the NDP government’s “Keep Canada Working” campaign centered around the controversial pipeline project is misleading.

“Canadians deserve to know the facts about the cost of the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” May said.

“The Notley government’s ‘Keep Canada Working’ ads exaggerate the economic benefits and hide the many risks. This pipeline is a liability any way you look at it.”

May said the Trans Mountain pipeline will create 90 permanent jobs, not thousands of jobs as indicated by the Alberta government.

“The delay to the Kinder Morgan pipeline costs the country of Canada about $40 million a day and there are tens of thousands of jobs at stake,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said last April.

Alberta’s NDP government said the expansion will help sustain good paying jobs for thousands of Canadians.

“The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that the project would result in 37,000 jobs across Canada,” a government statement to Global News read.

“Fifteen-thousand new jobs will be created during project construction. Thirteen-hundred annual full-time marine sector jobs will be created during operation.”

READ MORE: Workers left in limbo as construction on Trans Mountain pipeline stops

Trans Mountain said there were 2,000 people working on the pipeline before the Federal Court of Appeal struck down the project’s original approval last summer, citing issues over the impact on marine life and Indigenous consultation.

The company said it expected the project would employ 5,000 workers by the middle of the year had it not been postponed.

The Green Party leader also suggested the safest way to transport bitumen is as a solid by rail rather than by pipeline.

“The only way to transport bitumen, which is a solid, through a pipeline is mixing it with a toxic diluent,” the party’s statement read. “When that mixture spills it’s impossible to clean up.”

“I am often asked: ‘Doesn’t Canada have truth in advertising laws?’ We do, but the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards doesn’t apply to government paid advertising for political issues,” May said. “The Alberta ad campaign demonstrates that it should.”

On Feb. 19, Notley announced the province was spending $3.7 billion to move landlocked oil to market by rail.

The province said transporting oil by rail cars is more expensive, less efficient and less environmentally-friendly than by pipeline.

“We could be getting so much more out of our products then we do, but instead, we are forced to curtail production and lease rail cars to move our product,” a government statement read.

READ MORE: Notley cautiously calls NEB Trans Mountain decision a step in the right direction

Last week, the National Energy Board conditionally approved the Trans Mountain expansion and made 16 new recommendations to the Governor in Council.

The NEB said the project could cause environmental harm but that the benefits of the pipeline outweigh the effects.

“We’re pleased that we got a recommendation to the federal cabinet and that we can hopefully see them move forward in a timely way,” Notley said.

Notley said she is not expecting the federal cabinet to approve the pipeline before the next provincial election, which by law has to happen before the end of May.

The Trans Mountain expansion would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to the B.C. coast for export to overseas markets.

READ MORE: ‘This is B.C. vs. Canada’: Alberta has spent $23M on Keep Canada Working campaign

According to documents obtained by Global News, Keep Canada Working is a national advertising campaign with multiple messaging arms for different parts of the country.

In January, the province told Global News $23.4 million had been spent on the Keep Canada Working campaign out the total budget of $31 campaign committed to the campaign.

The money is going towards television, radio, print, online and billboard ads that tout the Trans Mountain Pipeline as a project that would boost Canada’s economy and create jobs.

The Alberta government said the campaign is having an impact.

“Before the campaign started roughly four in 10 Canadians agreed that we need new pipelines. Now that number is almost seven in 10,” the province’s statement read.

“We continue to see more news confirming increased awareness of the topic and that the vast majority of Canadians agree our lack of pipelines is a crisis and we need to get pipelines built. Even a majority of our neighbours in B.C. now agree with us.”

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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