Sudbury

Pipeline politics could re-ignite in northern Ontario if Conservatives win

The Conservatives are promising to revive the idea of a cross-country oil pipeline if they form government after next week's election. That would likely stir up those in northern Ontario who fought the Energy East pipeline a few years ago. 

Energy East national pipeline faced regulatory delays and company walked away

The Conservatives are promising to build a national energy corridor, that would carry oil and electricity across northern Ontario. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The Conservatives are promising to build a national energy corridor, carrying oil, electricity and telecommunications cables across Canada if they win the Oct. 21 election.

"It's an election promise to some, a threat to others," says Brennain Lloyd with the environmental lobby group Northwatch, based in North Bay. 

It was the epicentre for northern Ontario opposition to the Energy East pipeline in recent years.

TransCanada had proposed converting some of the existing national natural gas pipeline to carry crude oil, including the section running across northern Ontario and under Trout Lake, where the 50,000 people of North Bay draw their drinking water.

But Lloyd says she hasn't heard the words "Energy East" much in this campaign.

"I don't think anybody assumes that it's gone forever, but I think that there is a general expectation that the respite is going to last longer than Andrew Scheer's imaginings," she says.

Nipissing-Timiskaming Conservative candidate Jordy Carr supports the building of a national energy corridor, but not necessarily through North Bay. (Erik White/CBC )

Despite her party's past support for reviving Energy East, Nipissing-Timiskaming Conservative candidate Jordy Carr hasn't focused on it in this campaign. 

She isn't saying which route for a national energy corridor she'd prefer, but does think it would be good for the economy and the environment. 

"It's up front, it's done. And there's no question whether there would be delays. But as well for the environment. You can do all your environmental assessment up front and deal with it properly," says Carr.

Lloyd predicts that any route across northern Ontario would put the environment at risk and lead to protests.  

"I can't imagine it's going to land in any location where there aren't the same or similar difficulties," she says.

The other group in northern Ontario keeping an eye on this debate are the hundreds of steelworkers at Tenaris Tubes in Sault Ste. Marie who make the pipes for pipelines. 

But while the main USW local for Algoma Steel employees is backing the Conservatives in this election, the USW local for Tenaris workers endorsed the Liberal candidate in Sault Ste. Marie. 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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