Safeguards will allow us to embrace progress

Like most Canadians, I have concerns about the consequences of a major calamity involving the proposed Enbridge pipeline

Like most Canadians, I have concerns about the consequences of a major calamity involving the proposed Enbridge pipeline. However, if adequate safeguards are put in place, then I believe that the project should be embraced, not opposed.

This great nation has been built by exploiting our abundant natural resources, be it furs, lumber, minerals, food or water power. One thing all these products needed was efficient transport facilities to sell these products around the world. The resource industries led the way to providing and developing our road, rail and waterway systems that have helped to access this vast country. I see this pipeline as an extension of our transportation infrastructure.

Have we let accidents on our exiting transport systems deter us from building more roads, vehicles, power lines, railways or ships? No, nor should they have. Instead we have leaned from experience and have built better and safer systems.

From time immemorial every generation has improved what went before. Mankind’s ingenuity knows no bounds. Surely,with all the knowledge and technology that is available, a system can be developed that will reduce the risks of a major calamity to acceptable levels. Such a system is necessary if the project is to proceed. The whole length of the pipeline should be monitored, both remotely and physically.

From the benefits to be gained from the proposed pipeline it should be that all parties should share the bounty: the company, the customer and the people whose lands and way of life are to be impacted. However, to enjoy the bounty all parties must participate in sharing the risks.

Throughout human history a charge has been imposed for a use of a trade route through an owner’s land. That can only be fair and proper. For those who say that their traditional way of life is being threatened, let us be reminded that traditions do not happen spontaneously but are built up over generations.

Can our young people be educated, trained and employed to safeguard both the environment and the pipeline? Can the knowledge of the land and waterways that we possess not be utilized to monitor and control the operation? Can our fishermen not be trained as pilots and tug boat operators to help keep our shipping routes safe? All these things are possible and should become part of the project.

The customer could play a role by funding part of the cost of the education and training, together with the companies involved. Recognizing that despite all precautions a calamity could occur, part of the proceeds from the sale of the products should go directly to a recovery account. This tariff should not be used for any other purpose.

The consultation process that is currently ongoing should continue in some form if and when the project proceeds, open and constructive discussion can help solve many issues.

I suggest that we embrace and facilitate progress, do not oppose it out of hand but rather pursue every avenue we can think of so that everyone can benefit from it.

Tom Robson