Canada’s premiers have a critical role to play in keeping Canada’s economy moving forward while abiding by our excellent environmental standards and ensuring that radical environmentalists do not impair Atlantic Canada’s chances for economic growth or the prosperity of Canadians.

A clean environment with jobs for Canadians are not mutually exclusive and should be at the forefront of provincial energy ministers meeting in Halifax this week, and for premiers and territorial leaders gathering in St. John’s.

Extreme environmentalist activists pushing for a total stoppage of energy projects such as Alberta and Saskatchewan’s oil sands, and Atlantic Canada’s offshore oil and gas production wilfully ignore the giant strides that industry has made reducing emissions, and are turning their backs on the ingenuity of Canadian workers who are at the cutting edge of innovation to preserve boreal forests, conserve water, protect fauna, reduce emissions and save energy.   Canada’s energy sector has maintained this country inside the lines of economic prosperity at a time when the rest of the world suffered through a severe economic crisis.

Atlantic provinces have a chance to learn from mistakes made elsewhere and set a different tone for energy development conducted responsibly and sustainably.  The Atlantic region can gain significantly from further energy development without sacrificing environmental standards, as our off shore development in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador already shows.

Hydraulic well stimulation has opened the promise of greater prosperity, energy independence, and the generation of cleaner, less expensive fuels to heat our homes and propel forward our innovative industries and businesses, reducing the need from expensive transportation. Natural gas from off shore projects has already been nourishing hopes for more jobs for Atlantic Canadians, and bringing us closer to the possibility of keeping more of our young and brightest working right here in our region.

Greater opportunity for responsible energy development means greater capacity for technical innovation, attracting more cutting edge businesses and job creators, generating more wealth to pay for our infrastructure and our social programmes that project our children and our elderly.

Fortunately, Canadian Premiers collectively are committed to do their best so that all Canadian products, energy, services, and manufactured goods, reach markets as fast and as efficiently as possible, making sure we do not lose market share to regimes whose labour, social and environmental standards are lower and more harmful. Our Premiers support the half a million jobs sustained by the oil and gas industry in Canada.

Green extremists and radical environmentalists are promoting an alarmist and unbalanced policy agenda that will hurt Canadian workers and endanger the economic prosperity for union and independent workers alike, right across the country.

Across partisan lines and traditional ideological differences, Canadian premiers are toiling hard to see Canadians prosper.  Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant are working hard to see TransCanada’s Energy East project come to fruition. Premier Rachel Notley of Alberta is eager to promote Canadian oil to markets and supports Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion into British Columbia.

Contrary to what the Council of Canadians argue in a recent op-ed, there is nothing extreme about expanding a pipeline network right along already existing pipeline, much less claiming, as extreme environmentalists do, that reversing the flow inside a pipeline for Energy East would have devastating environmental consequences.  These are not claims Canadians can take seriously.

But while the environment may be indifferent to the direction of a pipeline’s flow, Atlantic Canadian workers are very interested in Energy East for the flow reversal represents more prosperity and jobs coming to our region.

Many of these future jobs will be union jobs, essentially demonstrating that the Council of Canadians calling to shut down the oil sands and similar job-creating projects are sadly now sacrificing the interests of Canadian workers and their families at the high altar of the radical environmentalists ideology.

At a time when the Canadian economy and Atlantic Canadian families need more prosperity, premiers can rely on the advise of Nova Scotia’s Wheeler Report and the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report calling on a more reasoned and thoughtful approach to well-stimulation technologies. Energy development policy needs to include clean, more economic, job-producing natural gas.

Provincial leaders must not let narrow interest groups and their extreme views hold the rest of Atlantic Canadians back, making the promises of greater prosperity for the region wait even longer.

Canada has outstanding environmental standards and conservation policies that are the envy of many countries around the world. Energy development conducted responsibly need not be hijacked by extreme activists, however well-intentioned they may be. The future of our children and the preservation of our culture in the Atlantic region deserve more balanced approaches.