Mulroney says Energy East 'a nation-building opportunity' for Trudeau
Dario Balca, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, April 24, 2016 10:39AM EDT
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says pipeline development is an opportunity for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring Canadians together by creating jobs across the country.
“It’s a big challenge and there’s nothing guaranteed, but that’s what leadership is all about,” the former PM told CTV’s Question Period.
Mulroney said that while Trudeau isn’t to blame for what he calls “the last 15 years of inaction” regarding pipelines, it is up to him to bring Aboriginal, environmental and provincial stakeholders into agreement “to proceed with a nation-building exercise of moving our vast natural resources to the west and east coasts to provide employment and wealth for all Canadians.”
So far, the Trudeau government has remained undecided on its support for expanded oil production and future pipelines.
On Friday, Canada joined some 175 countries in signing the Paris Agreement— a non-binding United Nations accord setting ambitious climate change reduction targets. But the prime minster said that does not mean abandoning pipeline projects in Canada.
In January, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government would take more time to study the environmental effects of the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines before approving either project.
But Mulroney said properly expanding Canada’s oil production would be “a big-ticket item going right into the history book.” He added that TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is the place to start, saying the project “seems to be most advanced for the moment.”
That pipeline would bring 1.1 million barrels of bitumen a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Quebec and New Brunswick for shipping to overseas trade partners.
Environmentalists say the project would increase Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, preventing the country from meeting its climate change goals. But proponents say expanding Alberta's oil sands is necessary for Canada to grow its wealth before the country can transition to a lower-carbon economy.
“We cannot keep 174 billion barrels of oil in Alberta locked in the land and do nothing about it,” Mulroney said. “This is wealth that was God-given to Canada.”
So far, the pipeline has faced its most significant opposition in Quebec. In March, a Quebec Superior Court denied an environmental law group’s request for an injunction against Energy East, folding those legal proceedings into a similar court action launched by the provincial government.
On Friday, TransCanada heeded the Quebec’s government request of more information regarding environment risks of Energy East.
Under Quebec’s Environment Quality Act, TransCanada will have to produce a study on the impact of the project by June 6.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline, which would connect the Alberta oilsands to the suburbs of Vancouver, is pending federal approval while the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry oil further north through British Columbia, is facing many regulatory hurdles.
With files from CTV’s Question Period and The Canadian Press