New pipelines that would give oil companies access to markets in Eastern Canada will be critical if Alberta hopes to put people back to work and strengthen its faltering economy, says Finance Minister Joe Ceci.
Ceci said Thursday he was disappointed to hear more opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline coming out of Quebec.
He was responding to comments made earlier in the day by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who said the environmental risks posed by the pipeline would outweigh any economic benefits for his city.
"I'm not surprised, in some ways, but I am disappointed," Ceci said of Coderre's comments.
"And I believe we can work through these things. And that pipeline access is the safest, most efficient and effective way to transport oil. And I think Quebec would know that better than most places."
The finance minister said he believes the government of Quebec understands how important new pipelines would be to Canada's overall gross domestic product. He told reporters at the legislature he believes Alberta can work with other provinces to reach some kind of agreement.
As Ceci spoke to the media, Premier Rachel Notley was on her way to Toronto, where she will meet Friday with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Pipelines and the Canadian energy strategy are expected to be on the agenda.
Ceci said the Alberta government can do nothing to stop the plunge of oil prices, which closed the day below $30 US a barrel.
"What we can control is how we respond," he said. "Job creation and economic diversification remain our top priorities."