Is the contentious Energy East pipeline the best way to help Alberta?

Justin Trudeau has pledged almost a billion dollars to bolster Alberta's economy. But would building the east west pipeline be a better way to help Alberta? With guest host Duncan McCue.
(Canadian Press)
Listen to the full episode1:53:01

Justin Trudeau has pledged almost a billion dollars to boost Alberta's sagging economy. But would fast-tracking the Energy East pipeline be a better way to help Alberta? With guest host Duncan McCue.

For the past decade, Alberta has been the engine of the Canadian economy and now, the province is spluttering. Energy revenues are expected to fall from $9 billion in the last fiscal year to $2.8 billion in the fiscal year that ends next month.

As oil prices have plunged, so has the number of jobs. Alberta shed almost 20,000 jobs last year—more than any year since the 1982 recession, which many Westerners blamed on the National Energy Policy—introduced by Pierre Trudeau.

So when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Premier Rachel Notley and oil executives last week, there were hopes that more than pleasantries would be exchanged. As the columnist Jen Gerson put it: "There are few provinces in this country less inclined to sunny ways than Alberta!" 

At that meeting, Trudeau promised to fast-track $700 million in infrastructure funding, which was promised by the previous government. Furthermore, Alberta will receive the $250 million it requested under the fiscal stabilization fund. As well, the prime minister assured changes will be made to the Employment Insurance rules, in order to soften the blow for Albertans who have lost their jobs.
Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue. McCue has been a reporter for CBC News for over 15 years. His news and current affairs pieces are featured on CBC's The National. Duncan is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. (CBC)

The implications of the sluggish energy sector continue to ripple though other resource dependent provinces: Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador. But many argue that it's hard to imagine any province making a stronger case for aid than Alberta.

Of course, the elephant in the room in all these meetings is the building of a pipeline to help get western oil to market. The most likely pipeline is Energy East, which 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.

However, all attempts at pipelines, whether west, south and east, have been snarled by entrenched political opposition. Justin Trudeau has vowed that pipelines won't be built without community acceptance, especially from indigenous peoples. And Quebec's agreement is crucial to the project, so far the province's mayors are as divided as the rest of the country seems to be. The mayor of Quebec City is in favour, while a coalition of Montreal area mayors are against.

Our question: Is the contentious Energy East pipeline the best way to help Alberta?

GUESTS

Duane Bratt
Chair and professor in Mount Royal University's Department of Policy Studies
Twitter: @DuaneBratt

Lise Ravary
Columnist and blogger for Le Journal de Montreal.  
Twitter: @liseravary

Niigaan Sinclair
Acting Head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba
Twitter: @Niigaanwewidam

Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Mayor of Calgary 
Twitter @nenshi