Day 6

Is the withdrawn Frontier mine project worthy of its newfound political weight?

The Teck Frontier oilsands mine project was always questionable in viability, says CBC's Aaron Wherry. But in recent weeks, it's been framed as a referendum on Alberta's oil industry. Should one project hold that weight? Wherry helps us wade through the rhetoric and the reality.

'It's always a bit more complicated once you peel back the layers,' says CBC's Aaron Wherry

Teck Resources Limited's zinc and lead smelting and refining complex is pictured in Trail, B.C. Teck withdrew its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Teck's now-withdrawn Frontier oilsands mine project was always questionable in viability, but that didn't stop it from becoming a major talking point in Canada's tug-of-war between climate change and the economy, says CBC reporter Aaron Wherry.

"It's hard to say that one project should be a referendum on the future of an entire industry, or that it should be a referendum on the future of Canadian climate policy," Wherry told Day 6 guest host Saroja Coelho.

"But because there's so much uncertainty, and because it was such a major project, it was very easy for all sides to say, 'No, look, this is where you need to draw a line.'"

Teck withdrew its application for the proposed Frontier oilsands mine on Sunday.

In a letter explaining the withdrawal, CEO Don Lindsay wrote that his company supports Canada's action on carbon pricing, but that federal and provincial governments need to reach an agreement when it comes to climate policies.

Wherry explained that the project speaks to two major, unsettled political issues: frustration over the future of the oil and gas industry, and questions over Canada's 2030 and 2050 goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The withdrawal also happened to coincide with weeks of protests and blockades in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

Wherry downplayed suggestions that the heightened political climate may have been the key factor in Teck's withdrawal.

Political leaders disagree on cause for dropped Teck mine application

4 years ago
Duration 3:09
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson agree that the Frontier oilsands mine would have brought work to Alberta - but have different ideas about why the project failed to go forward.

"It's obviously a politically potent idea that the unrest of the last few weeks has contributed to this. ... Of course, though, with most political attacks, it's always a bit more complicated once you peel back the layers."

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