Green Left Cracks

Marking a major schism in the green energy movement in Canada, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) has come out in support of Enbridge’s proposal to rereverse the direction of the oil pipeline, Line 9, between Montreal and Sarnia.

In a press release issued yesterday, the CEP states:

“In accordance with the highest environmental standards, this is a project that we can’t afford to live without. It will preserve and create jobs as well as create wealth for decades to come. For these reasons, CEP Local 163, 175, 194 and 2005 support today’s initiative and the proposed reversal of Line 9.”

This statement directly contradicts key elements of other CEP activities.

CEP became a member of the Blue Green Alliance in 2012. The Blue Green Alliance has opposed the development of oil pipeline capacity for Alberta’s oil.

Here is one example called “Oil’s Bad Math”. Here is a quote from that press release:

“At the moment, there are proposals to expand, reverse, and construct pipelines in practically all directions from Alberta. Each of these proposals faces opposition. And in some cases, the opposition is winning. To soften the opposition, there is a concerted effort by the oil industry and their allies to convince Canadians that more pipelines and more oilsands extraction are in the national interest… What does the rest of Canada get? An increased risk of spills into our rivers, lakes and coast lines. Oh, and a tarnished reputation globally. We miss out on opportunities presented by the green economy. And we face massive costs down the road, because the longer we wait to deal with climate change, the more costly it will be.”

In response to my inquiry today of the CEP with respect to whether they continue to participate in the Blue Green Alliance and whether they continue to endorse the statements contained in “Oil’s Bad Math”, the CEP replied as follows:

CEP was never against all pipelines. CEP is against exporting our crude oil outside Canada, but CEP supports effort to transform that crude oil in Canada. Pipeline 9 reversal is to bring crude oil into eastern Canada and to transform it in Quebec refineries. CEP is in support of this project. But CEP is against Keystone, Northern Gateway etc”¦.

This statement suggests that protectionism is more of a core value for CEP than the green agenda promoted by the Blue Green Alliance.

CEP is in the midst of merging with the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union. The CAW was a founding member of the Blue Green Alliance along with Environmental Defense, then under the leadership of Rick Smith. I commented here on Rick Smith’s move from Environmental Defense to the Broadbent Institute, suggesting that the left in Canada will be challenged in deciding whether to endorse the much higher electricity rates Smith helped to create in his role as an architect of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

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