New Brunswick

Brian Gallant promotes Energy East pipeline in Ontario

Premier Brian Gallant has launched a quick round of shuttle diplomacy to promote the Energy East pipeline, which is rapidly becoming the subject of a heated and potentially divisive national debate.

New Brunswick premier also plans to meet Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard over the pipeline project

Premier Brian Gallant met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in Monday to discuss TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Energy East pipeline project. (James West/Canadian Press)

Premier Brian Gallant has launched a quick round of shuttle diplomacy to promote the Energy East pipeline, which is rapidly becoming the subject of a heated and potentially divisive national debate.

Three days after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced she would work in tandem with Quebec to impose conditions on the project, Gallant was in Toronto to meet with her.

Gallant also plans to meet soon with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

The Ontario-Quebec joint list of seven conditions include consultations with First Nations, strict safety rules, recognition of the larger need to fight climate change, and ensuring natural gas customers in central Canada are not affected when part of a gas pipeline there becomes part of Energy East.

"I think they’re very, very reasonable and I think everyone would agree with them," Gallant said Monday morning as he stood next to Wynne.

"I think that it’s important for us to have the proper consultations when it comes to the communities that would be affected in a positive or potentially negative way," Gallant said.

"It’s important for us to ensure that all provinces and the country as a whole would benefit from this project."

TransCanada Corp. wants to use a combination of existing pipelines and new construction to carry Alberta crude oil 4,600 kilometres across the country to export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.

The project is driven in part by TransCanada’s continued inability to win approval in the United States for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry the crude south to export from the gulf coast of Texas.

The former New Brunswick PC government of premier David Alward supported the proposal, and since defeating Alward in September’s election, Gallant -- accused during the campaign of "saying no" to shale gas by promising a moratorium — has gone out of his way to boost Energy East.

More meetings planned

On Sunday, the Toronto Star described the early-morning Wynne-Gallant meeting as "hastily arranged."

That may reflect the growing urgency to maintain a political consensus supporting the project. Reports say Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, a pipeline supporter, also plans meetings with Couillard and Wynne.

In Quebec, there’s growing opposition to the planned TransCanada export terminal near Rivière-du-Loup, on the St. Lawrence River.

And in Ontario, Enbridge Gas opposes the project because TransCanada wants to use some pipeline capacity Enbridge now uses to supply its customers.

Wynne suggested Monday that her Liberal government can support Energy East if its conditions are met.

"We've never moved away from the position that we understand that this is in the best interest of the country, that we do it in the right way," she said.

"And that's what the conversation with Premier Couillard was about, and that's what my conversation with Premier Gallant has been about.

"We understand that we are connected, you know, and that Alberta needs to move its resource, and Ontario and Quebec and New Brunswick are part of that endeavour. But there are some principles that we need to adhere to."

Wynne says Energy East is part of a larger energy plan being developed by all premiers, which includes support for measures to reduce and mitigate climate change.

"Within the discussions about a Canadian energy strategy, we’re talking about the interests of provinces across the country," she said.


Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. He grew up in Moncton and covered Parliament in Ottawa for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. He has reported on every New Brunswick election since 1995 and won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Newspaper Awards and Amnesty International. He is also the author of five non-fiction books about New Brunswick politics and history.


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