The Progressive Conservative party is continuing to attack Liberal Leader Brian Gallant over his stance on shale gas and accusing him of hypocrisy for his support for projects, such as the Energy East pipeline.
Gallant was in Saint John on Thursday to talk about his support for the TransCanada Corp.’s west-to-east pipeline and other energy projects.
"We have been clear and strong in our support of the Energy East pipeline," Gallant said.
"This is important for our country as it will allow us to diversify our markets for oil exports."
But the Tories say Gallant is applying a double standard to projects he supports as opposed to shale gas, which he is against.
PC Leader David Alward said the Canaport conversion that Gallant is backing would see the terminal export natural gas from shale gas, which was recovered through hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking, in the United States.
"If that gas ever came from the east coast, that gas would be the same gas that we could be developing here,” Alward said.
Alward said it's hypocritical for the Liberal leader to support one project but not the other.
And the Progressive Conservative leader's comments reflect the fact that with just 10 days to go in the campaign, he's not wavering from his pro-shale gas message.
Gallant: Pipeline is a 'nation-building project'
Gallant’s latest trip to Saint John did not include any new promises.
But he used the campaign stop in New Brunswick’s largest city to re-state his long-standing support for the Energy East pipeline as a way to counter Tory attacks that he's anti-development.
The pipeline would bring oil from western Canada to the Irving refinery in Saint John, a project Gallant says is a gain for the province.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for a nation-building project and a lasting partnership between New Brunswick and Alberta,” he said.
TransCanada Corp.'s pipeline proposal would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
The company would construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal. TransCanada and Irving Oil Ltd. have also formed a joint venture to build and operate a new $300-million deep water marine terminal.
Gallant also supports the conversion of the Canaport LNG terminal to export natural gas.
Alward has been a major proponent of the pipeline project. He travelled to Alberta to pitch the project to politicians and business leaders in the province.
He also accepted an invitation from former Alberta premier Alison Redford to speak to the provincial legislature about the project. Redford also spoke to the New Brunswick legislature in 2013 and highlighted the need for the new pipeline.
The development of the shale gas industry has been one of the campaign’s overarching themes.
The Progressive Conservatives have built their entire campaign around using the shale gas industry to turn around the province’s sputtering economy.
The Liberals, however, have promised a moratorium until more research can be done on the controversial industry.
A CBC/Radio-Canada poll, which was conducted by Corporate Research Associates, released earlier this week showed how divisive the issue is with the electorate.
The poll found 49 per cent of people completely or mostly supported the exploration and development of shale gas compared to 44 per cent who said they mostly or completely opposed the industry.
While those surveyed were split on whether they supported the industry, larger numbers of citizens said they thought the shale gas industry would hurt the environment but they also thought it would create long-term economic benefits.
Gallant's stop in Saint John to reinforce his support for energy project is no accident.
There are several competitive races in the Saint John area and business leaders in the region have been supportive of the Tory plan on energy development.