New Brunswick

Saskatchewan Premier brings Energy East pipeline support to Saint John

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his pro-pipeline message received a warm and largely uncontested welcome in Saint John on Wednesday by the city's business crowd and executives of Irving Oil.

Irving Oil president says benefits considerable for region

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says there are advantages to having the Energy East pipeline built. (CBC)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his pro-pipeline message got a warm and largely uncontested welcome in Saint John on Wednesday by the city's business crowd and executives of Irving Oil.

"We need pipelines in our country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Wall, in the hometown of Canada's largest refinery.

"Energy East is also about getting better value for the resource by diversifying our customer base for the Canadians who own the resource in the first place," he said.

Here in New Brunswick, the Energy East pipeline would mean over 3,700 direct and indirect jobs during development and construction.- Ian Whitcomb. president of Irving Oil

Saskatchewan stands to benefit from exposure to world markets because, Wall asserts, suppliers who now only access American buyers don't get the optimum price. 

Irving would also have a stake in oil exports, as a partner in the marine terminal that would facilitate shipments out through the Bay of Fundy. 

$17M invested to date

The company says it has thus far invested $17 million to develop and plan that terminal.

"Energy East is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our country, with an opportunity to unite Canadians in a way that we haven't seen since the TransCanada highway opened in 1962," said Irving Oil president Ian Whitcomb.

He said the regional economic benefits would be considerable.

"Here in New Brunswick, the Energy East pipeline would mean over 3,700 direct and indirect jobs during development and construction," said Whitcomb.

"Over the project's life, it will generate an estimated $6.5 billion increase in New Brunswick GDP, significant property tax increases that will go directly to our New Brunswick municipalities, and generate an estimated $853 million increase in federal and provincial income tax revenues generated from businesses right here in New Brunswick."

After giving his keynote speech, Whitcomb was unavailable to take questions from reporters.

Wall received warm applause in Saint John as he laid out the advantages of Energy East, including his assertion that moving oil by pipeline is far safer than moving oil by rail.

Meeting in Quebec

The next stop on his tour might prove more challenging.

He's scheduled to meet with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Thursday.

Municipal leaders in that province, including the mayor of Montreal, have come out against Energy East.  

The Bloc Quebecois oppose it. 

And The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador adopted a resolution Wednesday rejecting Energy East for posing "the very real risk of a toxic tarsands spill that could not be adequately cleaned up."

When asked in Saint John about the opposition that appears to be growing in Quebec, Wall's tone softened.

"While it's true that a big part of this pipeline is conversion, and so not new construction, the new construction does go through Quebec and so it's reasonable that Quebecers would have serious questions about that."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Cave is a CBC reporter based in Saint John, New Brunswick.

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