Protesters chanting anti-pipeline slogans forced the cancellation Monday of the first day of hearings in Montreal into TransCanada’s Energy East project. Lead presenter, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre never got a chance to give his testimony.
Here in Edmonton Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr was making the rounds giving a presentation to the Alberta Enterprise Group, before meetings with both Mayor Don Iveson and Premier Rachel Notley. He told reporters that he’s concerned that the hearing was cancelled.
“The whole operation is designed to hear from Canadians, what ever their point of view might be. We think they should have the right to say it. If there were circumstances this morning that didn’t allow people to speak on a very important natural subject, I’m sorry about that.”
“People should have a right to speak. This is an important subject. Not everyone’s going to agree, but every one should have a right to express themselves. That’s a fundamental Canadian value.”
Carr did tell the business audience that we are seeing more cooperation among the provinces as they work with the feds towards both a national energy, and a national environmental strategy that involves pipelines. “So the questions are, how do we as an intelligent nation-state manage the transition? The answer is, by talking to each other, guided by a set of principles searching common ground. And I’m satisfied that’s the way we’re going about it.”
Carr even identified four concrete dates that the NEB is working towards on pipeline decisions. “By the second week of October, there will be a decision on the Pacific northwest LNG project. By mid-November there will be a decision on the Line-3 expansion project. It is a pipeline that has to be entirely rebuilt, and that takes oil from Hardisty… through to Superior, Wisconsin. There will be a decision on the Kinder-Morgan trans-mountain express by the 19th of December, and there will be a decision on the Energy East project…sometime in the fall of 2018.”
However he said the Energy East decision could see the NEB call a ‘pause’ in its deliberations. The head of the hearings in Montreal for the National Energy Board said the federal regulatory body will try to resume proceedings Tuesday.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the cancellation of Energy East hearings in Montreal Monday is proof the NDP plan to appease anti-pipeline activists isn’t working.
Jean said in a statement that Premier Rachel Notley has argued that Alberta’s new carbon tax would convince environmental activists to give projects like the Energy East pipeline a fair shake. However, he said the Montreal protests show “there is no appeasement of these groups” and the premier needs to take what he said will be a $9-billion tax off the table and instead trust the integrity of the pipeline approval process.
(sj-with files from the Canadian Press)