The debate surrounding the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is often framed as how much environmental risk is worth taking for a certain amount of economic benefit.
Many opponents of the megaproject have focused their attention on highlighting the risk side of that equation but a speaker who will be coming to Prince George next month believes the economic case is also seriously flawed.
Robyn Allan, an economist and former president and CEO of ICBC, has produced a paper challenging some of the figures proponents are using to tout the possible financial windfall they believe the project will generate.
"Northern Gateway represents an inflationary price shock which will have a negative and prolonged impact on the Canadian economy by reducing output, employment, labour income and government revenues," Allan wrote in her 74-page report titled An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway.
Calgary-based Enbridge is hoping to build a $6 billion pipeline to connect Alberta's oilsands with Kitimat. The project is currently undergoing a federal environmental review and Allan is in Edmonton for hearings this month on the economics of the project.
Those in favour of the project believe that by shipping crude oil to Asia via Kitimat, it will drive up the price for the Canadian commodity, but Allen argues that price increase will also impact Canadians themselves and result in lower purchasing power for families.
The Stand Up for the North Committee is facilitating Allan's talk in Prince George and organizer Peter Ewart said it's important the economic side of the project is examined as closely as the environmental concerns.
"That's one of the things that Enbridge is promoting about the pipeline," Ewart said. "That it's going to have all of these supposed economic benefits, but Robyn Allan, as an economist, is taking issue with that."
During her presentation, Allen will provide an economic analysis of the pipeline, especially how it relates to both the Canadian and British Columbian economies.
Allan will speak at UNBC on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and at the Mackenize Recreation Centre and Library on Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. Both presentations are expected to last about two hours and include ample time for questions.