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B.C. can’t afford to refuse exports in tough economy

Apr 9, 2013

British Columbia is a rich province, in no small part because of the region of the world we occupy. Our amazing timber, mining and hydro resources make us the envy of large sectors of the globe. But having these resources is not enough – we have to be able to sell them abroad.

Part of Metro Vancouver’s strength is it’s a world-class port that connects Canadian resources to the entire Pacific Rim. Of course the region has grown beyond simply being a port – but it is still the source of tens of thousands of jobs and a huge amount of economic activity.

Laila takes a not-in-her-backyard attitude to coal exports. She gives the impression that exporting coal is some sort of new dangerous and disgusting development.

This is absurd. B.C. not only already mines coal, but has been exporting it for years. The Port of Metro Vancouver is one of the largest coal exporters in North America and has the experience to do it safely and efficiently. If Laila is against coal being exported from the Fraser Surrey Docks I assume she is in favour of shutting down Roberts Bank and all the jobs that go with it.

One argument made by people against coal exports is we are promoting the use of dirty coal by countries such as China. They say that here in B.C. we should take a stand against coal-fired electrical generation by refusing to export it overseas. This is the same argument many of the foreign-funded anti-pipeline groups make – they say we should save the world by stopping oil or gas flowing through B.C.

The reality, of course, is different – there is a race to build new coal terminals in Washington and Oregon. There are other sources of coal for China as well — if not from North America, they will buy coal from Indonesia or Australia.

B.C. has been exporting coal safely for decades. If we refuse to export a legal commodity, our reputation as a port will suffer. Business will go elsewhere and it won’t be dozens of jobs lost, but hundreds or thousands. As a port city we can either embrace trade and the opportunities it brings, or turn our back on the world.

Laila scoffs at the jobs this project would bring, but with B.C. losing 22,400 full-time jobs in March alone, we should be fighting for all the jobs we can get.



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