The company behind the Energy East pipeline ramped up its charm offensive in Quebec on Wednesday, announcing it had signed a multimillion dollar order for the construction of 22 modular enclosures along the pipeline route.
That deal with ABB Canada would create 120 direct jobs in Quebec and a further 90 spinoff jobs.
But it will only proceed if the $15.7-billion pipeline project gets the go-ahead, and Quebec politicians remain unconvinced that the Energy East project is in the best interest of the province.
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Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who along with more than 80 other municipal leaders recently rejected the proposed pipeline over environmental concerns, said his understanding was that the number of jobs the project would create is much lower.
'Based on facts, based on numbers, on explanations, on science, we firmly believe that we can meet the seven principles of the Quebec government,' - Jonathan Abecassis, TransCanada spokesman
"We're talking 33 jobs, five in Quebec, and we're talking about…an impact of $2 million a year. Is it worth it?" Coderre told reporters at city hall on Wednesday.
Coderre asserted that he wasn't against the project, but that TransCanada was "a bad corporate citizen [which] is not addressing the questions."
He said there are factors beyond the economic benefits to consider, saying that environmental and social concerns should also be taken into account.
"It's all together, so you need to strike a balance," Coderre said.
TransCanada's Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to refineries in eastern Canada and New Brunswick.
Environmental activists continue to lobby governments to stop further development of the oil sands.
They argue that any new pipeline will increase global oil supply and therefore increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel said citizens' concerns in Quebec are legitimate, and Transcanada should focus on answering them.
Heurtel reiterated the seven conditions for the project to proceed, which include more extensive consultations with First Nations and a positive economic impact on Quebec.
"What we need is satisfying answers to all of these questions," Heurtel said Wednesday in Quebec City.
For its part, TransCanada said it was ready to co-operate and back up its claims with scientific data.
"Based on facts, based on numbers, on explanations, on science, we firmly believe that we can meet the seven principles of the Quebec government," said TransCanada spokesman Jonathan Abecassis.
Louis Bergeron, Energy East's vice-president for New Brunswick and Quebec, said he appreciates that in order to have this project accepted TransCanada needs to show Quebecers there is more in it for them.
"Coderre mentioned several times that we have to do our homework," Bergeron said.
"So I think today what we're saying is that we are doing it. We have a lot more coming up, and it's my job to make sure we satisfy this principle that the Quebec government requested for us to maximize the economic benefits of this project."