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Wildrose attack after Energy East hearing disruption not helpful, says energy minister

Alberta’s energy minister is firing back at the Wildrose Party after comments that today's actions from the "radical left" at Energy East hearings in Montreal show the failures of the governing NDP.

Brian Jean says protest incident proves anti-pipeline forces won't be appeased

Alberta Wildrose Leader Brian Jean admits his comments about the premier were inappropriate. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Alberta's Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean says the abrupt cancellation of the Energy East pipeline hearings in Montreal after protesters stormed the room is proof that the NDP's plan to appease activists isn't working.

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Alberta's energy minister, said she was disappointed with what happened at the NEB meetings on Monday, but that Jean is not helping move the discussion forward.

"I think, first of all, Alberta's conservative party, they're still refusing to take climate change seriously and it's certainly been that attitude that's resulted in more pipeline opposition and lost opportunities for Albertans," she said in response to Jean's comments. 

"The federal Conservatives had a failed approach and I see Mr. Jean is continuing that failed approach attitude."

The ruckus began Monday morning when one protester ran to the table where the National Energy Board commissioners were seated and almost knocked it over.

The commissioners left the room and police entered to remove the protesters. Three people were arrested.

The NEB has postponed Tuesday's scheduled meeting on Energy East citing safety concerns. In a release the NEB said it will provide more information on Tuesday about how it will "hear from Montreal intervenors." 

Critical for all voices to be heard, says minister

McCuaig-Boyd said she's confident the government's approach is working and that it will help get pipelines built and that it's critical for all voices to be heard — albeit in a less boisterous manner than the Montreal protesters. 

When asked if there is a contingency plan if pipelines aren't built, McCuaig-Boyd said "we're working on getting our pipelines right now."

Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd says a failure to properly address climate change is actually behind the growing opposition to pipelines. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

She insists the government can "can develop our energy, but be environmentally responsible at the same time."

But Jean pointed to the NDP's carbon tax, saying the province is trying to gain favour with climate change activists.

"The small, union-led protest in Montreal this morning that forced the cancellation of NEB hearings on the Energy East pipeline is the most clear evidence to date of the failure of Premier Rachel Notley's plan to gain social license by increasing taxes on Albertans and capping oilsands development," Jean said in a release.

"Albertans were told that in exchange for paying $9 billion in carbon taxes over the next five years, projects like Energy East would be given a fair shake by the radical left and its activists within the environmental movement. It is crystal clear that there is no appeasement of these groups. There will be no 'social license' gained by taxing Albertans."

TransCanada remains optimistic

TransCanada, the company behind Energy East, told CBC News it remains optimistic the hearings will foster a positive dialogue with Quebecers on its $15.7-billion project. 

"We are ready to respectfully and constructively begin the sessions in Montreal after five such productive sessions in New Brunswick — and we will be ready when the sessions resume," spokesman Tim Duboyce said.

"Listening, earning trust and dealing with the public's concerns will help us build and operate a safe pipeline."

The federal minister of natural resources said Monday he's concerned about the disruption.

"The whole operation is designed to hear from Canadians, whatever their point of view might be," said Jim Carr, who was in Edmonton speaking to a business group.

"If there were circumstances this morning that didn't allow people to speak on a very important national subject, I'm sorry about that," Carr said.

"Not everyone's going to agree. But everyone should have a right to express themselves, and that's a fundamental Canadian value."

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