People ‘are going to die’ protesting Trans Mountain pipeline: Former Bank of Canada governor | Edmonton Journal

A protester holds a sign against fossil fuel development during a rally against the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline project, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The government must enforce rules allowing construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion even though opponents might die fighting it, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge says.

“We’re going to have some very unpleasant circumstances. There are some people that are going to die in protesting construction of this pipeline. We have to understand that,” he said at an event Wednesday in Edmonton put on by law firm Bennett Jones.

“Nevertheless, we have to be willing to enforce the law once it’s there … It’s going to take some fortitude to stand up.”

The federal government agreed in May to buy the existing pipeline and the expansion project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion after the company halted work because of uncertainty over when the development will be completed.

More than 200 people have been arrested during demonstrations outside Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby, B.C., work site.

Dodge wrote in a spring economic outlook he presented at the event that the impact of transportation bottlenecks on Canadian oil prices costs the economy about $10 billion a year.

He argued “NIMBY obstruction,” bolstered by growing community engagement in project reviews, allows Indigenous peoples, local groups and others to delay investment in projects even when they meet world-class environmental standards.

While he wouldn’t speculate in an interview how fatalities might occur during the Trans Mountain expansion, he said he’s worried about what will happen among the extremist minority among the pipeline foes.

“We have seen it other places, that equivalent of religious zeal leading to flouting of the law in a way that could lead to death … Inevitably, when you get that fanaticism, if you will, you’re going to have trouble,” he said.

“Are we collectively as a society willing to allow the fanatics to obstruct the general will of the population? That then turns out to be a real test of whether we actually do believe in the rule of law.”

Regulatory uncertainty is one of the biggest issues facing Canada’s energy industry at a time when the country should be exporting oil and gas and using some of the profits to help transition away from fossil fuels to fight climate change, Dodge said.

“We have to understand this is a resource where the long-term viability isn’t there, not because we’re running out of muck in the ground, but because we actually, collectively, as the globe, are going to have to stop using as much of this stuff.”