Liberals pursue compromise approach on oil sands

The federal Liberals have shunned both of the antagonistic stances of the Harper government and the leading opposition party on Alberta’s oil sands, by announcing a “new approach” which will seek to pursue oil sands development while minimizing any adverse environmental impact.

Liberal leader Bob Rae criticized the binary perspective of the two major parties on the issue at the outset of a three-day tour of the Alberta oil sands, saying in a statement that “Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair want Canadians to believe that developing the Alberta oil sands is an either-or proposition,” and that such a notion is “patently false.”

The Harper government has been an unabashed champion of the economic boon of Alberta’s oil sands, and introduced a swathe of new regulation to expedite their development. These efforts have been met with opposition and anger from environmentalists, however.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has been sharply critical of oil sands development by contrast, asserting that the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar triggered by increasing oil exports will beleaguer Canadian manufacturing, and lead to a typical case of what economists refer to as the “Dutch Disease.”

The new approach touted by Mr. Rae asserts that “we can reap the benefits of oil sands development and mitigate the environmental impact,” as long as interest groups on all sides of the issue are properly engaged and consulted. Mr. Rae will be meeting with a number of these interest groups during his three-day visit to Fort McMurray.

Zoran Karapancev /