Arthur Irving welcomes Stephen Harper on campaign trail
Conservative leader critical of opponents for their lack of support for Energy East pipeline
Irving Oil provided a rare election campaign backdrop on Thursday evening as Arthur Irving welcomed Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to the company's refinery in Saint John.
The Irving family typically does not publicly get involved in partisan politics, but with Harper endorsing the proposed Energy East pipeline that would bring western crude to the Saint John refinery, he was welcomed with open arms by Irving for a campaign stop.
"The prime minister, two years ago came to our refinery and he met a lot of our employees," Irving said to the crowd of about 200 at the invitation-only event.
"And we thank him very much for coming back here so soon. Come often. You're always welcome."
Irving did not explicitly tell anyone to vote Conservative in next month's federal election.
Harper spoke on his regular campaign topics such as balancing the budget and national security.
But he also criticized Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair for not giving outright support to the pipeline proposal.
"You know, Premier [Brian] Gallant, Frank McKenna, Liberals, they all support it — but not Justin," said Harper.
The Conservative leader reiterated his party's support for the pipeline.
"Our Conservative government supports projects that get our natural resources to market and create good jobs as long as they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment," Harper said.
"The Energy East project is subject to an independent review and whether it goes ahead or not should be based on the facts, not on political expediency."
The pipeline proposed by TransCanada Corp. would carry more than one million barrels of oil a day from western Canada to the Irving refinery in Saint John.
In July, Trudeau would not give outright support for the proposed pipeline project.
Both Trudeau and Mulcair have said they don't trust the current federal pipeline review process and would introduce what they call stricter and more thorough analyses of proposed energy projects.
This was Harper's second stop in New Brunswick since the campaign started. He also appeared in Fredericton with Keith Ashfield, who is seeking re-election.
The Conservatives held eight of New Brunswick's 10 seats when the election was called.