Energy East offers economic stimulus for weak economy

Published on January 30, 2016

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre

©CP file photo

Everybody seems to have an opinion recently on the Energy East Pipeline Project. It makes sense since it has the best chance to proceed among the three Alberta oil pipeline projects.

Energy East will cross through six provinces from Alberta heading to the New Brunswick terminus in Saint John and the Irving Oil refinery.

It would be a game changer for New Brunswick, a province facing major economic challenges. It would create a potential boom for New Brunswick and its key port city.

Pipeline construction job opportunities are beckoning for Islanders and others in the region. It will have a positive impact on Atlantic Canada as a whole.

The importance of the Energy East pipeline cannot be understated. It brings Canadian oil to a Canadian refinery and allows it to be shipped to Canadian and world markets.

With the crash in oil prices and the downturn in the dollar, here is a remedy to help bring Canada back to economic health. When the Alberta oil sector was booming, it meant good-paying jobs for hundreds and hundreds of Islanders. They brought back a lot of money to help our provincial economy. An estimated 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP is associated with the natural resource sector.

Alberta, which has pumped billions into the national economy from oil resources, needs a little help right now.

The proposed Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean to supply Asian markets is going nowhere. U.S. President Barak Obama has blocked the Keystone XL pipeline from heading south to supply refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

Now there are threats to Energy East. Alberta is being restrained from getting a valuable resource to market. Much needed revenue for province and country is being curtailed.

It’s time for the rest of Canada to step forward and offer Alberta a little support and co-operation. If energy development and pipelines can be built in an environmentally sustainable way, they should proceed.

It is disappointing that Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and many other municipal leaders in Quebec have objected to the Energy East pipeline proposal. The mayor of Saint John is telling the mayor of Montreal to get out of the way and stop being an impediment to a national dream.

The mayor of Montreal was accused of being hypocritical on the pipeline issue. He is opposing the Energy East pipeline on environmental grounds yet had no problem dumping a billion of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River last fall to allow repairs on the city’s sewage system.

The stance of Mr. Coderre and others in the province is surprising. It means that lengthy freight trains of oil tanker cars will continue to travel over rail lines across Quebec. The horrific disaster in Lac-Megantic where 47 people died in a 2013 crash is still a vivid memory. It helps prove the argument that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil over great distances.

Mr. Coderre was also only too willing to accept a free $5 billion Champlain Bridge paid by Canadian taxpayers. It’s time for a little quid pro quo and a little nation-building here. We need Alberta oil, Alberta jobs and a healthy Alberta economy to jolt the rest of Canada.

In Quebec alone, a projected nine years of construction on Energy East will create over 3,000 full time jobs and 14,000 Canada-wide.

The federal government's announcement this week on a resource project review process could break the national deadlock over pipeline approvals. Five principles unveiled by Ottawa are to address deficiencies in the existing review process for fossil fuel projects.

The announcement was welcomed by all sides in the debate as a common sense approach to examine and then approve or reject pipeline proposals. It’s an encouraging development.

Ottawa recognizes that pipelines won’t get built without public support and the review process should go a long way to ensure this happens. Everyone involved will need to consider not just their local interest but also the national interest.

If the pipeline can pass the five guiding principles and review process, why delay any further? Let's build it. It's the right thing to do.