Alberta business groups and politicians say Trans-Canada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline will not take bitumen upgrading jobs from Albertans, despite what union leaders say.
Union representatives were on Parliament Hill Thursday to express their concerns about the pipeline to about 20 opposition MPs. The union wants Canada to refine its own energy resources instead of exporting raw bitumen to the United States.
"We would like the MPs to start putting pressure on the government to do what they should have and stop this pipeline before more jobs are lost to the United States," said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is defending the project. CAPP President David Collyer says the pipeline will still create jobs in Alberta.
"It's great for Canada. It's great for the U.S.," he said.
"It's going to benefit both countries. It's going to help economic development, it's going to create jobs and we should be very. very pleased in Canada that we've got a market right next door to us in the United States that wants our oil."
Horner, Mar, Redford express support
The three candidates for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party also stated their support for the project Thursday.
"I'm fully supportive of Keystone. It's an important part of the economic mix in our province," Alison Redford said.
"Albertans own that bitumen," Doug Horner said. "We get to say where it goes. We can actually use it as directive to help us upgrade in the province of Alberta."
Gary Mar said approval of the project doesn't mean all upgrading jobs will leave the province.
"Moving oil to the United States for refining in the U.S. Gulf Coast can make sense and I support that," he said. "But it doesn't necessarily result in not being to upgrade bitumen into refined products like diesel fuel here in the province of Alberta, where it can go to local markets."
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith also expressed her support for Keystone.
"There is a false choice being put forward by Keystone critics that we have to either choose the pipeline or choose local upgrading jobs, and that by choosing one you’re eliminating the other," she said in a news release.
"The single biggest job creation challenge we face in Alberta is getting our energy product to market. With that in mind, Keystone must proceed."
Smith said a significant amount of bitumen upgrading is already being done in Alberta.
Smith said she agreed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who called Keystone a "complete no-brainer."
"The overwhelming truth is Alberta’s energy products are the safest, most reliable and most ethical in the world. For the United States, by far our most significant trading partner, the choice should be clear," Smith said.