Email this articleE-mail this story  Letter to the EDITORWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Premiers oppose U.S. subsidies

Good news for proposed NWT pipeline

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 07/02) - A battle was won last week in the U.S.-Canada trade war. It's good news for a proposal to build a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Canadian premiers sent a message to the federal government on trade issues.

NNSL Photo

Stephen Kakfwi: "...if there are trade-distorting subsidies, we have to oppose them all."

They agreed to oppose all trade distorting subsidies last week at a premiers conference in Halifax, N.S.

"What the premiers agreed on is the principle that if there are trade-distorting subsidies, we have to oppose them all," said NWT Premier Stephen Kakfwi. "We can't pick one or the other simply because some of us disagree on what is a subsidy, and what is fair and unfair."

That means the group is against an American subsidy proposal that would entice energy companies to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska southward following the Alaska Highway. Construction of an Alaskan line would surely mean a proposed Mackenzie Valley pipe would be put on the back burner.

The $3 billion Mackenzie line would carry Canadian gas southward but a $17 billion Alaskan line would bypass and strand NWT gas.

The Alaskan line would pass through the Yukon and is generally considered not economical. But the Alaskan government wants to subsidize the line and make it more attractive.

Last week Yukon Premier Pat Duncan asked premiers not to link energy to other U.S. trade issues.

She supports the U.S. subsidies.

She would love to see jobs that would accompany pipeline construction through her territory. But Kakfwi has been supporting a Mackenzie line very firmly in recent months.

Energy subsidies are just one issue that has caused clashes between Americans and Canadians.

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario are angry about American agricultural subsidies and British Columbia's economy has been hurt since taxes were imposed on Canadian lumber exported to the U.S.