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Canadians question the proposed Mackenzie pipeline

It was going to be the biggest private construction project in history. But before a pipeline could be built from the Beaufort Sea to energy-hungry markets in the south, the impact on the North's people, economy and environment had to be determined. That task was given to Justice Thomas Berger, who embarked on an extraordinary three-year odyssey across the Arctic. His report shocked the government that appointed him, and was heralded by some as "Canada's Native Charter of Rights."

Billions of cubic metres of oil and gas have been found in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay and in Canada's Mackenzie Delta. Some industry analysts say the discovery comes just in time to avert an energy crisis. The federal government and gas companies act on the discoveries by rushing towards a multibillion-dollar pipeline construction project. But some Canadians are starting to feel like the most important economic development in the history of the North is being rammed down their throats.

At a public forum in Toronto, Canadian Arctic Gas Pipeline chairman William Wilder and Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Donald Macdonald talk about the urgent need for a northern pipeline. Then the sparks begin to fly. University professor and former Liberal cabinet member Eric Kierans takes the microphone and unleashes a barrage of pointed questions about a pipeline development he feels is rushed, flawed and dangerous.
. Canada was under pressure from the United States to build a pipeline that would carry oil from Alaska. In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon authorized construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to the Port of Valdez in southern Alaska. From there, tankers would ship oil to southern U.S. states. Using tankers made the route less desirable than a pipeline through Canada, but the Americans were not prepared to wait.

. Eric Kierans served in the government of Quebec Premier Jean Lesage and ran against Pierre Trudeau for leadership of the federal Liberals in 1968. He served in Trudeau's government as postmaster general and communications minister. Kierans was also president of both the Montreal and Canadian Stock Exchanges and was a professor of economics at McGill. Kierans sparred with Trudeau over post office reform, development of the Anik satellite, and Canadian resource policies (including pipeline development).
Medium: Radio
Program: Options
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1973
Guest(s): Eric Kierans
Host: Warren Davis
Duration: 10:06
Photo: Main topic image: Gilbert Alexander Milne/National Archives of Canada/PA-166075

Last updated: December 20, 2013

Page consulted on March 3, 2014

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