Alberta politicians call for action from Trudeau on Energy East pipeline

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean may not often agree, but they both say that the federal government (and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre) need to get behind the Energy East pipeline.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Wildrose's Brian Jean challenge opposition to Energy East

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says his city is ready to move on infrastructure projects and all that's needed is promised federal funding from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

They might make strange political bedfellows, but Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean agree on one thing — Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's opposition to the Energy East project means that greater federal support is needed for pipelines and infrastructure. 

"Well, he's wrong, it's as simple as that," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said of Coderre's rejection of the pipeline on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

"Energy East is also about energy independence for Canada. It not only allows us to get market access, it allows us to serve Canadian customers with Canadian energy."

Nenshi says Coderre is wrong about Energy East

7 years ago
Duration 8:57
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi discusses the mayor of Montreal's opposition to the Energy East pipeline and Justin Trudeau's comments about 'resourcefulness'

Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean was even more blunt, telling host Rosemary Barton he wouldn't take "environmental lessons from a mayor who releases eight billion litres of raw sewage into the river right in front of his community."

On Thursday, Coderre announced Montreal's official opposition to the pipeline, stating potential environmental risks outweigh any economic benefits.

Nenshi and Jean take issue with that line of thinking.

Pipeline pushback

"If you're really worried about transporting bitumen, it's easier to control a [pipeline] spill like that than to manage a problem with oil by rail," Nenshi said. 

"But he knows all of that. Clearly this is the right thing for Canada and, I've got to say Mayor Coderre, it's the right thing for Montreal."

Jean agreed, blasting Coderre's decision as "short-sighted."

"This is a province that's taken $72 billion in equalization payments over the last 10 years, a lot from Alberta and a lot from Alberta oil," he said.

TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline project would carry 1.1 million barrels a day from Alberta to an export terminal in Saint John. (Canadian Press)

The City of Montreal's opposition is the latest challenge to TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline project, which would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of oilsands crude through Quebec to an export terminal in Saint John.

The project would include the existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal and a new pipeline through Quebec.

'Get out of the way' of industry, Jean says

Jean and Nenshi called on the federal government to do more to support infrastructure projects in Western Canada.

"The government has the ability to really invest in nation-shaping big infrastructure," Nenshi said, adding that smaller, more immediately stimulative projects are also ready to go in Calgary and cities across Canada — and that all that's needed is "a commitment for a cheque."

Jean called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Premier Rachel Notley to "get out of the way of industry" in the province.

"I'm not blaming the NDP government or Justin Trudeau for the low price of oil. I'm blaming them for how they're reacting to it," he told Barton.

Notley supports the project, and travelled to Toronto on Friday to nail down Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's support for the pipeline.

Trudeau's support for Energy East has not been clear. He's expressed dissatisfaction at the "torqued and flawed" environment assessment process of the previous Conservative government. But he's also said that Canada needs to get its resources to market, and Energy East is one option for doing that. During the election last fall, Trudeau said it was a question of "getting that balance right" between resource jobs and protecting the environment.

Resources vs. resourcefulness

Trudeau raised eyebrows back home this week after he made comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he wants Canadians to be known for their resourcefulness, not resources. 

"It's important to remember this was for a global audience, and the talk in the hallways here at Davos is that that was a home run," Nenshi said.

"I wish he had thrown in the word 'also' or 'plus' [resources] when he was talking … but of course he's right about the resourceful piece."

Jean said Trudeau's comments "didn't make any sense whatsoever."

"This is a gentleman I've never taken seriously until he became prime minister," he said. "Canadians depend on our natural resources and the extraction of those natural resources for jobs. That's what he should be focusing on."

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean blasts Montreal mayor's opposition to Energy East pipeline

7 years ago
Duration 8:02
Brian Jean calls Denis Coderre's position on Energy East 'short-sighted'


  • This story has been edited from an earlier version of this story said that both Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau support Energy East. In fact, Trudeau has said the approval process for Energy East has been 'flawed,' but has not stated a position on the project itself.
    Jan 22, 2016 11:16 AM ET


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