Alberta Premier Prentice Lobbies For Energy East in Ontario and Quebec

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice begins an Energy East lobby tour today in Quebec City to try to woo the premiers of Quebec and Ontario into supporting TransCanada's 1.1 million barrel-per-day oil pipeline proposal.

“It is a sign the project is in danger,” Patrick Bonin, a Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner based in Montreal, told DeSmog Canada. “Over 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t want Energy East to be built.”

Ontario and Quebec announced last month that Energy East would have to meet seven conditions to gain the provinces' approval of the 4,600-kilometer pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick. Included in these conditions is a demand for a full environmental assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the pipeline.

An analysis conducted earlier this year by the Pembina Institute, an energy think tank, found the greenhouse gas emissions from extracting the oilsands bitumen to fill the Energy East pipeline would erase all reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achieved by Ontario’s phase out of coal-fired power plants. The analysis did not include emissions from combustion, which would make Energy East’s carbon footprint even higher.

“If Ontario and Quebec are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change then the Energy East tar sands pipeline project is dead already,” Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager with Environmental Defence, told DeSmog Canada.

Prentice meets with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Tuesday and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in Toronto on Wednesday.

Ontario and Quebec's conditions exceed B.C.’s heavy oil conditions

This is not the first time an Alberta premier has travelled to another province on behalf of a pipeline project. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark famously inflamed relations with Alberta with her five conditions for the Northern Gateway pipeline, which resulted in some icy meetings with then Alberta premier Alison Redford.

Clark's demand to receive a greater share of the fiscal benefits from Northern Gateway was a contentious issue between the two western provinces, but she did not go as far as Wynne and Couillard in insisting the pipeline's greenhouse gas emissions be properly assessed.

The National Energy Board's reviews of pipeline projects aren't taking climate change into account, which has left a leadership vacuum that the provinces are stepping in to fill. New pipelines facilitate expansion of oilsands production, leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions.

The seven conditions on the Government of Ontario's website.

Bad news for Energy East continues

Prentice’s visit comes during a turbulent public relations spell for Energy East.

Documents leaked to Greenpeace last month revealed TransCanada had hired global PR firm Edelman to work on an aggressive strategy of undermining Energy East opponents through tactics that included creating phony grassroots groups to give the impression of genuine support of the pipeline. The revelations caused TransCanada and Edelman to publicly part ways.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, former Maple Spring student activist and author, announced on Radio-Canada just days after the leak that he was donating his $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award to an anti-pipeline coalition and encouraged the public to do match it. Donations have reached $400,000 now. 

Yesterday the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada announced the belugas whales of the St. Lawrence Estuary — where TransCanada has plans for an Energy East marine oil tanker terminal — are at greater risk of extinction than a decade ago, forcing TransCanada to halt work on the terminal.   

“It’s good news and bad news,” Bonin says. “TransCanada’s marine terminal at Cacouna probably won’t be built now, but it is sad to find out the beluga population is not recovering."

Image Credit: Jim Prentice via Twitter, WWF Canada

New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired eight journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 2,500 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

Derek was born and raised in Brooklin and now lives in Ottawa. He worked in Germany for eight years as…

‘Localized harassment’: RCMP patrol Wet’suwet’en territory despite UN calls for withdrawal

On Valentine’s Day, a small group of Wet’suwet’en people gathered outside a Coastal GasLink pipeline work camp in northwest B.C. to hold a ceremony to...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism
Get The Narwhal in your inbox!

People always tell us they love our newsletter. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism