Calgary

Let Energy East review run its course, former head of NEB says

The former head of the National Energy Board says politicians should stay out of pipeline reviews, despite what Brian Mulroney says.

Gaetan Caron says Brian Mulroney's suggestion of more active role for PM not supported by law

If approved, Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from the Alberta oilsands to the East Coast. (CBC)

The former head of the National Energy Board says politicians should stay out of pipeline reviews, despite what Brian Mulroney says.

Earlier this week, former prime minister suggested Justin Trudeau take a more active role to ensure that TransCanada's $15.7-billion Energy East project gets approved.

But Gaetan Caron, who retired as head of the NEB two years ago, says that would be a mistake.

Gaetan Caron, former chairman of the National Energy Board, says politicians should steer clear of taking sides during pipeline review hearings. (CBC)

"I think unless the prime minister changed the legislation through a vote in Parliament and provided for a front-end determination of the merits of a project and let the NEB review the details later on, this is not something that can actually be supported in law," said Caron, who is now working as a private consultant with the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, on the Energy East file. 

The Calgary-based energy watchdog came under siege last week after members of the regulatory panel reviewing Energy East were forced to resign amid allegations of bias and conflict of interest. 

There had been calls to dump two of the commissioners after it was revealed they met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest while he was working for TransCanada.

The 4,500-kilometre pipeline would carry Alberta crude to a marine terminal in Saint John.

The federal government says it will soon appoint new members to the NEB to resume the review of Energy East.

A decision on the pipeline isn't expected for 18 months.  

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