Notley will 'leave the gun in the holster' as Quebec seeks Energy East injunction
Published Tuesday, March 1, 2016 2:03PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 1, 2016 5:46PM EST
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she will “leave the gun in the holster” -- for now -- as Quebec prepares to seek a court injunction against the proposed Energy East pipeline.
Notley told reporters Tuesday that she was ready to come out with “guns blazing” when she first heard about the Quebec government’s plan to seek an injunction to ensure that TransCanada’s
Energy East complies with the province’s environmental regulations.
But after speaking with Quebec officials, Notley said she now believes that the province is pushing for a review under an existing system that would not necessarily impede the project overall.
“We would be very concerned if this was in fact about a new, competing parallel process that requires projects crossing provincial lines to go through multiple hearings and then multiple sets of conditions and formal consent from both the federal government and from each local jurisdiction along the route,” she told reporters.
“If we ultimately determine that’s what this is intended to turn into, we will vigorously oppose it and you will hear a great deal more from me on this.
"I'm going to leave the gun in the holster until we're actually at the gunfight. And we're not there right now."
Notley said Alberta has retained counsel in Quebec and will be closely monitoring the situation.
Quebec’s Environment Minister David Heurtel said Tuesday that TransCanada has so far refused to comply with the province’s request for an environmental impact assessment.
He said seeking an injunction “is not directed at any province or region,"
"This is about one company that wants to do a project in Quebec which, in our opinion, is not respecting Quebec law," he said.
The Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of western crude through Quebec and as far east as Saint John, N.B.
In a statement, a spokesperson for TransCanada said the company has agreed to voluntarily participate in the Quebec environmental consultation process known as the 6.3 BAPE and looks forward “to answering any questions that Quebecers may have.”
Opposition to Energy East has been growing in Quebec, with the mayors of Montreal and surrounding municipalities vowing to challenge the project. That drew sharp rebukes from politicians and business leaders in Alberta and Saskatchewan, who say that pipeline projects are vital at a time when the price of oil is low and unemployment in the oil and gas industry continues to rise.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Tuesday that Quebec’s move is likely to be "divisive."
"Let's respect the fact that there is a national process in place," he said. "Provinces shouldn't be slapping their own processes on top of that, especially when it is trying to avoid the project happening at all."
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed suggestions that opposition to the Energy East pipeline is creating a rift between eastern and western provinces.
Speaking to reporters in Vancouver, Trudeau said that all Canadians are “united” in their desire to see the economy grow in an environmentally responsible way.
He said differing views on such issues are not a threat to national unity.
“We are much stronger than that,” he said.
Trudeau said that a prime minister has the responsibility to get the country’s natural resources to market, and that includes doing so in an environmentally responsible way.
“We don’t have to choose between a strong sustainable economy and a protected environment,” he said.
He also noted that major energy projects must involve consultations with different provinces and affected communities.
With files from The Canadian Press