New Brunswick

Justin Trudeau's win raises questions about Energy East's future

Supporters of the Energy East Pipeline are now trying to determine what the Liberal election win means for the future of the project. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has refused to say he will support Energy East.

During the campaign, Justin Trudeau said he would strike a balance between jobs and the environment

During a July 20 interview, prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau said he cannot give unqualified support for the Energy East pipeline project because it is going through the regulatory process. (CBC)

Supporters of the proposed Energy East Pipeline are now trying to determine what Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's election win means for the future of the project.

The incoming prime minister has refused to say he will support Energy East, which would bring oil from western Canada to Saint John.

What's more, his platform calls for "an immediate public review of Canada's Environmental Assessment processes."

Trudeau has said repeatedly the Harper government "politically torqued" the National Energy Board process.

The platform statement on environment assessments, posted on the site, says the review "will modernize and rebuild trust in the National Energy Board."

It is unclear how long a review would take and what impact, if any, it would have on the Energy East application. 

We need a strong economy, we needjobs, but we're not going to imperil future generations to do it.- Justin Trudeau

Speaking on Information Morning Fredericton on July 20, Trudeau said he would strike a balance between jobs and the environment when it comes to Energy East.

"Getting that balance right is what Canadians want to hear," said Trudeau.

"They know we need a strong economy, we need jobs, but we're not going to imperil future generations to do it."

The 4,600-kilometre pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of western crude per day to the Canaport export terminal in Saint John.

A city document says the terminal,and accompanying tank farm for crude oil storage, would cost $805 million to construct.

The pipeline itself carries a $12-billion price tag. The terminal would also supply crude to the Irving Oil refinery located on the city's east side.

Stephen Harper waved to supporters following a campaign stop at the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John during the election campaign. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
The Conservative campaign in Saint John tried to exploit the lack of clear support from Trudeau to make Energy East a local election issue.

The Conservative leader even attended a rally at the Irving Oil Refinery, where Harper reiterated the party's support for the project.

"We speak very clearly about it," said Saint John Conservative MP Rodney Weston on Oct. 2.

"Not like the other leaders."

The issue dogged Saint John-Rothesay Liberal candidate Wayne Long.

During the campaign, he faced suggestions a Liberal government would kill the project.

After his election win Monday night, Long reaffirmed his personal support for Energy East.

"I think, as you can tell, from day one I said that Wayne Long always supported the pipeline," said Long.

"And, you know, the Liberal Party certainly just wants to make sure there's a fair process to move the pipeline forward."

The Chamber, Saint John's chamber of commerce, is quick to dismiss any suggestion that following the Liberal election win there is concern for the future of Energy East.

"No, It doesn't worry us," said chief executive officer David Duplisea.

"Our region supports Energy East, and we're looking forward to working with the new government to advance Energy East." 

Duplisea said he expects a recent show of support from Quebec's business community will help the project.

TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline would ship crude from Alberta to New Brunswick. (Canadian Press)
He points to a weekend resolution at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that was co-proposed by the Saint John and Peterborough, Ont. chambers, and the FCCQ, the federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce.

It recommended the federal government "create favourable conditions for the Energy East project to move forward, as the project will have significant economic benefits for Canada." 

The resolution passed with 98 per cent support. 

"We're ecstatic that we were able to bring Quebec onside with us to present this motion" said Duplisea.