Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government has no intention of reviving the failed Energy East pipeline project because of a lack of support, but it will continue to push forward with the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“There is no project on the table,” Trudeau said of Energy East in an interview with CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon that airs Sunday. “There is clarity that under the current approach, there is no support for a pipeline through Quebec.”
Cancelled more than a year ago, TransCanada Corporation’s $16 billion Energy East project would have seen a pipeline built from Alberta to eastern Canadian refineries and an export terminal in Saint John, N.B. Any hopes of reviving the project were dashed earlier this month, it seems, when Quebec Premier Francois Legault said that there is no “social acceptability” for building a pipeline through his province to carry what he called “dirty energy.”
Because of the resistance to the energy project -- which federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has also mused about reviving -- Trudeau sees no way for the federal government to come in and push to bring TransCanada to reconsider.
This stands in contrast to his stance on the Trans Mountain pipeline, which his government purchased from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in May. A project to expand that pipeline to transport more oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast has met stiff opposition from the B.C. government and Indigenous and environmental groups. Still, Trudeau says his government plans to continue pushing forward with the project he takes credit for saving, despite not having any concrete timeline to complete it, because we are “always going to be a country that relies on natural resources.”
“The Federal Court of Appeals came forward and said that we need to do a better job of consulting with Indigenous peoples and getting the science, particularly in regards to the environment, right on that,” he explained, referring to an August court ruling that stalled the pipeline expansion. “So we’re going back to the process to try and make sure that we can get it right, because one of the most important things, even more important than just any one pipeline, is a process whereby we can get big projects approved and built.”
But to B.C. NDP MP Nathan Cullen, Trudeau’s differing stances on the two pipeline projects is “a little inconsistent, if not hypocritical” considering that the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has been repeatedly panned by B.C. Premier John Horgan.
“We didn’t want that on the west coast but Mr. Trudeau said, ‘I don’t care,’” Cullen told Solomon in a separate Question Period segment. “But the Quebec premier gets up and says virtually the same thing about another pipeline and Trudeau says, ‘Oh, well, OK, then we back off.’”
That kind of “inconsistency” and “double standard,” Cullen said, is driving western Canadians “crazy,” regardless of their stance on pipelines.
“What applies in Quebec doesn’t apply in the west and it’s clearly political,” Cullen said. “It’s a political calculation, I think, by Trudeau to not sacrifice or risk seats in Quebec. (He) cares a lot less about seats in the West, I guess.”
With files from The Canadian Press
Watch the full interview with the prime minister on Question Period Sunday morning on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca and CTV News GO at 11 a.m. ET