© Guardian photo
Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board of Canada, was in Prince Edward Island this week. He is pictured here touring OmniActive Health Technologies, a bioscience company in Charlottetown.
Getting Canada’s oil to market is vital in sustaining the country’s economic wealth, and the only way to do so is by train or pipeline, Federal Treasury Board President Tony Clement told the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
In response to a question by a member, Clement spoke at length about his frustration with opposition to resource development and pipelines.
“If we want health care in the future, if we want to be able to pay for our schools and educating our kids, we need these resources to be out of the ground,” Clement said.
“Maybe I’m on an economic literacy crusade here, but we’ve got to be able to explain to people that part of our wealth as a society is going to be from exploiting these resources, getting them to market.”
The Lac-Megantic rail disaster earlier this month has reignited debate over how crude oil is shipped across the country.
The accident has led some to suggest pipelines may be safer than trains for transporting of crude.
The debate is a timely one for eastern Canada. TransCanada Corp. has publicly stated recently it may soon go ahead with a pipeline to transport oil to Atlantic Canada.
The proposed Energy East project would convert an existing natural gas pipeline to move crude from the Alberta oil sands to refineries in Montreal and New Brunswick.
It could then be shipped by tanker to markets in the U.S. and abroad.
Clement said Wednesday the United States will be self-sufficient in oil in the next four years, so Canada must have the ability to move its crude to Europe and Asia.
“That means a west-to-east pipeline,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how many constituents in my constituency say, ‘Boy I wish we had more Alberta oil. Why are we buying oil from Venezuela?’ Ok, well how else are we going to get it here? Train or pipeline. There’s not many other choices. So we’ve got to deal with that.”
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz and New Brunswick Premier David Alward have both expressed support for the idea of an eastern pipeline.
Ghiz told The Guardian Tuesday he expects it will be a topic of discussion at the meeting of Canada’s premiers this week in Ontario.
“I think it’s a very good idea for our region,” Ghiz said.
“St. John has a great port, a deep water area there that can easily transport crude… I think that it can be good for our economy.”
Clement has been in Prince Edward Island for the last three days, meeting with business groups and companies across the province.
He encouraged the member of the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce Wednesday to publicly support the transport of Canada’s crude and the proposed eastern pipeline project.
“I really do think this is critical to our economic future and that’s not just Alberta or Saskatchewan or B.C. It’s everybody.”