New Brunswick

Pipeline politics: The battle over Energy East heats up

The proposal to move oil sands product eastward via the Energy East pipeline is pitting politicians against one another, from Calgary to Saint John.

Energy East pipeline is pitting politicians against one another right across the country

Energy East is a proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline by Calgary-based energy corporation TransCanada. It would stretch from Alberta to an export terminal in New Brunswick and could carry up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. (CBC)

The proposal to move oil sands product eastward via the Energy East pipeline is pitting politicians against one another, from Calgary to Saint John. 

"Listen, call a spade a spade. It's a bad project," said Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, setting off a firestorm of rhetoric of the pipeline.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the economic benefits of TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Energy East pipeline are paltry when compared with the possible costs of an oil cleanup. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

"It has an impact," Coderre said. "And when you don't have any contingency plan, when there are some issues regarding safety, water quality, and if there is some waste–dump, a spill ... well, it can be even worse."

Yet in New Brunswick, leaders want the project for revenue and the jobs. 

On Monday night, Mel Norton, mayor of Saint John, came out swinging against Coderre. 

"Well, he should get off his hypocritical high horse," said Norton. 
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi doesn't hold back on telling Montreal Mayor Dennis Coderre he's wrong. (CBC)

"I think they just dumped something like 10 million litres of raw sewage into the river. And I think he should get out of the way of economic prosperity for Atlantic Canada, and New Brunswick and Saint John," he said.

Norton said if the Montreal mayor wants to be dependent on transfer payments from the rest of Canada, "that's his business."

"We want to be prosperous in Atlantic Canada and we want to be successful in Saint John. And he should get out of the way. This is an opportunity for us to play a role in building Canada. We haven't had that opportunity in more than 100 years," said Norton. 

In Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi underscored the importance of Alberta's need to get its oil offshore, and as he told Rosemary Barton, host of the CBC's Power & Politics, a pipeline is safer than rail and Coderre needs to get out of the way.
Rona Ambrose, interim Conservative leader, says the prime minister needs to make the pipeline happen. (CBC)

Nenshi: "Well, he's wrong, It's as simple as that. Remember this is an existing pipeline that already goes to Montreal." 

Barton: "Doesn't have oil in it, though."

Nenshi: "This will be an upgrade." 

And in Ottawa, the pipeline is promoted under the banner of patriotism, as Rona Ambrose rose in Question Period.

"Maybe the prime minister should stop using his cell phone to take selfies with Leonardo DiCaprio and pick it up and call Denis Coderre and fight for national resources," said Ambrose.

Even Rick Mercer has taken up the cause in one of his infamous rants. 
Even Rick Mercer has something to say about the proposed pipeline. (CBC)

"Have provinces transferring wealth to have-not provinces so we all share the same standard of living. Because we are a country. We are in this together. This is astoundingly decent. This is astoundingly Canadian. It's time for provinces to start asking, what's in it for Canada, not what's in it for me," said Mercer. 

Monday night at Saint John City Hall, a unanimous vote passed in favour of pressing TransCanada to talk about the money — to ask not just what's in it for Saint John, but exactly how much. 


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