Liberal Leader Brian Gallant took his campaign to Saint John on Tuesday night where he was looking for votes in a city where the Progressive Conservative resource development strategy has earned support from two business groups.
Enterprise Saint John and the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce sent Gallant a message in a newspaper opinion column on Saturday that called for shale gas development.
That demand matches the Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward’s main campaign message. The Tories launched their election campaign in front of a Corridor Resources fracking well pad near Penobsquis.
But David Duplisea, the chief executive officer of the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce, said the column was not a partisan endorsement ahead of the Sept. 22 election.
"It's not intended to be a political piece and the timing is somewhat coincidental,” he said.
Instead, he said the article was intended to show members of the two business groups that they are fully behind natural resource development.
The Liberals want a moratorium on shale development. Gallant said shale gas represents a small number of jobs compared to the other projects he supports, such as the Energy East Pipeline.
The Liberal leader said Saint John business leaders understand his position.
"I think all business people would argue you have to diversify your efforts, your investments, your projects," he said.
TransCanada Corp. is proposing to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on the company's Canadian Mainline route and the construction of 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline, to carry crude oil from Alberta to Saint John.
The $12-billion pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
Gallant will likely be repeating his strategy on resource development in Saint John many more times in the coming weeks. There are nine seats in the Saint John area.
The Tories have been mocking the Liberal leader’s energy positions, such as his support for the west-to-east pipeline, during the first few days of the campaign.
"You can't support the pipeline if you don't support what's in it,” Alward has said.