In December, Unifor released a “primer” explaining its opposition to the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, and support for the smaller Line 9 pipeline. The national union condemns all recent major export pipelines on both economic and environmental grounds, asserting that export pipelines do not prioritize Canadian consumers or maximize Canadian jobs. It also fears massive exports will harm other sectors, such as manufacturing, as the Canadian dollar rises.
Unifor asserts that the smaller Line 9 pipeline does not suffer from the same problems as the enormous export pipelines. Provided Line 9 oil is not shipped to Maine, and pending strict environmental and safety measures and First Nations approval, the union backs the Line 9 promise of energy independence and value-added manufacturing jobs, especially in Quebec. Unifor’s position echoes a statement issued by the Alberta Federation of Labour in October, which also contraposed Line 9 and major export pipelines.
In contrast to the Unifor and AFL positions, some labour activists continue to dismiss Line 9 benefits as “myths”, instead emphasizing the magnitude of safety, environmental, and economic threats. January revelations regarding an influx of Enbridge maintenance notices filed with the NEB has reinforced concerns regarding the age and fragility of the pipeline.
Delegates to Unifor’s Ontario Regional Council meeting in December approved recommendations for a long-term national energy strategy, including emissions targets and a climate action plan, energy independence, and a national energy grid. They also endorsed the National Executive Board’s call for a moratorium on unconventional fracking, until environmental and First Nations concerns have been addressed. Arriving at a national energy and environmental strategy for Unifor will be the task of its new Energy Council, soon to be constituted by delegates from all energy-related locals in the union.