HIS 2PP3 (2023) — Harrison + Braden

The Pipeline Concerns in the 1950s VS Now

Back in the 1950s

When we compare the pipeline concerns in the 1956 debate to the pipeline concerns we consider now, one can see they are drastically different. There is a broader core focus on issues when building pipelines now.

During the 1956 pipeline debate, the core focus was on the economic and social concerns of building the pipeline. Many people felt the government was selling out to American interests under the guise of Canadian patriotism. Another economic reason people were opposed is due to the tremendous financial cost of the pipeline (11). Judith Robinson specifically was concerned about how C.D. Howe and Louis Laurent should be using the tax-payer money to solve the social issues that the people had, such as fixing the roads and building recreation centres and swimming pools (9). 


These are drastically different from the concerns we consider when building pipelines nowadays. When building pipelines now, some things that are being considered are Environmental Impact, Indigenous Rights, Public Safety, Economic Benefits, and Regulatory Framework (12).

The potential for oil spills, the disruption of delicate ecosystems, and the production of greenhouse gases during extraction and transportation are just a few of the negative effects that pipelines can have on the environment (12). Consideration and mitigation must be given to the impact on wildlife and water sources (12).

In Canada, numerous pipeline projects would cross land that Native Americans have historically owned or used. Therefore, during the planning and approval process, consideration of Indigenous groups' worries and rights is required (12). Pipelines may have social effects, particularly on marginalized groups like Indigenous people (12). Pipeline development may lead to the destruction of traditional lands and the disturbance of cultural traditions (12). Conflicts over land rights, resource extraction, and environmental effects have resulted from pipeline building with Native American populations (12).

Pipelines frequently pass through densely populated regions, and the possibility of explosions or spills might endanger nearby people (12). When building pipelines, ensuring the safety of the public is of utmost importance (12).

Pipelines may boost Canada's economy significantly, creating jobs and generating income. The distribution of economic rewards must, however, be carefully considered, and the risks assumed by local populations must be adequately compensated (12).

The Canadian regulatory environment controlling pipeline development is intricate and can be challenging to understand. A crucial concern is ensuring that pipes are constructed safely and in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations (12).


One can note, the Environmental Impact, Indigenous Rights, and Public Safety were not the core concerns or the topic of focus in the 1956 pipeline debate (12). This has shown that over time and through public discourse, society has evolved and learned in some aspects about issues building pipelines may cause.