Calgary

Notley 'deeply disappointed' by Energy East cancellation, which Jean calls 'an attack on Alberta'

Reactions to TransCanada's decision vary widely in province where pipelines are deeply tied up in politics

Robson Fletcher - CBC News

October 05, 2017

Clockwise from top left: Premier Rachel Notley and UCP leadership candidates Jason Kenney, Doug Schwitzer and Brian Jean offered varying views on the termination of the Energy East pipeline proposal. (CBC)

Alberta's premier has expressed deep disappointment at TransCanada's decision to end its Energy East pipeline proposal Thursday, while an opposition leadership hopeful called it an "attack" on the province.

Meanwhile, a University of Calgary economist who follows the industry closely described the move as an understandable business decision.

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The reaction came swiftly in a province where pipelines are intrinsically tied up with politics and the economy.

"We are deeply disappointed by the recent decision from TransCanada," Premier Rachel Notley said in a statement issued at 8:43 a.m.

"We understand that it is driven by a broad range of factors that any responsible business must consider. Nonetheless, this is an unfortunate outcome for Canadians.

"Our government has supported Energy East since the project was proposed," Notley added.

"We believe this nation-building project would have benefited all of Canada through new jobs, investment, energy security and the ability to displace oil being imported into Canada from overseas and the United States."

UCP leadership candidates blame government

Brian Jean, who is among the leadership candidates for the province's newly formed opposition United Conservative Party, beat the premier to the punch with a fiery statement of his own, blasted out 19 minutes earlier.

"It's a shameful moment in Canadian history, an attack on Alberta and a total failure of the NDP," Jean said.

"The NDP promised massive carbon taxes and caps on our oilsands would mean social licence and approval for our pipelines, but they have been proven wrong yet again. Canada will now continue to import foreign dictator oil into our refineries instead of Alberta oil."

Jason Kenney, another UCP leadership hopeful, took to Twitter to blast Notley's government for the company's decision.

"Alberta NDP government should have applied to the Federal Court to quash the NEB's mandate creep into provincial jurisdiction on Energy East," he tweeted.

"The NDP promised their carbon tax would create 'social licence' for pipelines," Kenney added. "What a joke."

Doug Schweitzer, who is also running for the UCP leadership, chimed in on social media as well.

"This is wrong on so many levels. Trudeau and Notley's NDP have failed," he tweeted.

"It sends a signal to the world that Canada would rather import foreign oil than create jobs and infrastructure here."

'Changed circumstances'

In a statement, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the decision came "after careful review of changed circumstances" but he didn't elaborate.

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe noted a "big factor" in the decision may have been the anticipated capacity from three other major pipelines that have been recently approved.

In November, the federal government gave the green light to Kinder Morgan's expansion of the Trans Mountain line and Enbridge's Line 3.

And in January, U.S. President Donald Trump approved TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

"If KMX, KXL, L3 come online as planned, Energy East wouldn't be 'needed' until perhaps end of next decade," Tombe tweeted. "That may be a big factor here."

Tombe also posted a chart illustrating the capacity of those three pipelines and that of Energy East compared to the anticipated supply growth of oil in Western Canada.

Mayors' reactions differ in Calgary and Montreal

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said in a tweet he was "proud" that the project is being dropped.

He also claimed credit for TransCanada's decision, saying he and other Montreal-area mayors, as well as citizens' groups, played a key role in getting the pipeline cancelled.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was incredulous at that.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks to reporters on Thursday about TransCanada's decision to terminate its Energy East pipeline proposal. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"I can't believe, frankly, that anyone would take any glee in the loss of this incredibly important investment and in the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs and in the continuing reliance of his citizens on oil from foreign countries," he said.

"To me, that is not something to be celebrating."

Nenshi said there was "a pan-Canadian desire for this pipeline" and few jurisdictions were actually opposed to the project.

"It's really only Montreal," he said.

"Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick were all in favour."

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