One of the tricks in debating is to define your opponents positions and attitude prior to giving them a chance to state their position.
This is central to Mr. Kinsleys guest editorial in Tuesday's Citizen - defining those opposed to the Enbridge pipeline as people that dont care about the national interest or understand the links between a growing economy and the tax base.
Their outlook is anti-economic.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. After all, award winning economists are opposed to the pipeline. One could hardly argue that someone with a Ph.D. in the subject doesnt understand the economy.
After all, if you can label your opponents as people opposed to developing the economy - who does not want economic growth? - then you are obviously someone that supports the economy.
This is the position that Mr. Kinsley would like the reader to take away from his editorial - the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is all about economic growth.
But it is not.
And that is why those individuals and organizations supporting it have been using smoke and mirrors to obscure the facts.
Consider the economic picture. It is the largest private infrastructure project in the history of British Columbia, worth some $6 billion says Mr. Kinsley.
So? Is this somehow supposed to make it worthwhile? Is being the largest somehow tantamount to being right?
But more to the point, yes, it is a $6 billion dollar pipeline but only a small fraction of that money is going to be spent in British Columbia. According to Mr. Kinsley, we get $400 million in goods and services during the construction.
That is only 6.67 per cent of the total construction cost. Not an amount that really makes us a full fledge partner.
Indeed, if you listen to the commercials on Canadas Action Plan being put out by the federal Conservatives, the Action Plan is supporting pipeline manufacturing facilities in Ontario. Yes, work that could be done in B.C., making our economy stronger and more diversified, is being done once again in Ontario.
It is this sort of shortsightedness that really makes the Enbridge pipeline a bad deal.
It also points out the flaws in our economic growth strategies. We are not diversifying our economy nor building a strong manufacturing centre. It would seem, from Mr. Kinsleys editorial, that we should be content to be the hewers of wood, drawers of water, and the transporters of other peoples wealth.
I am all for economic development. It is critical to the development of the north and of the province. But it should be development that is (a) sustainable (b) environmental sound (c) long term and (d) growing the local labour market.
The Enbridge pipeline does none of these things. It is short term employment with limited impact. On their own website they state that the long term job prospects for this region is 16. Not a huge boom to the local labour market.
In addition, the pipeline is only designed to have a thirty year life span. Not exactly long term. And with regard to the environment, there is no question that it is not environmentally sound. Rather, the question is: Are the environmental damage and risks offset by the benefits?
It is the cost-to-benefit ratio that is in question.
As a final point, Mr. Kinsley tells us the project has the potential to add over $270 billion to Canadas GDP over the next 30 years. Lets assume that is right even though he has used the word potential in this estimate.
That is $9 billion per year in an economy that is presently worth $1.74 trillion or $1,740 billion and growing. At 0.5%, it hardly registers and certainly isnt going to make or break our future.
But out of this $9 billion per year, local, provincial, and federal government tax revenues amount to just under $90 million - or less than one per cent. That is, by any economic measure, a lousy return on investment.
As a final thought, we are told that our local gas prices are so high because they reflect the world market price of oil. Price increases in a barrel of oil show up at our pump. And yet, the whole point of the Enbridge Pipeline - if the proponents are to be believed - is to open up the oil sands to a new market, allowing Canadian companies to get more money per barrel of oil.
I am not an economist but wouldnt that mean higher prices for a barrel? And wouldnt that mean higher prices at the pump for you and me?
How is that helping our local economy?
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC and a weekly science column contributor with The Citizen.