Liberals and Conservatives support Energy East oil terminal on the St. Lawrence River

The Council of Canadians has taken the position that, "To protect the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River we must ban all transport of tar sands bitumen on, under and near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River."

Infodimanche.com reports (in French), "Despite opposition from many scientists, marine mammal experts and citizens from all over Quebec, the Conservatives and Liberals agreed to support the proposed oil terminal at Gros Cacouna [on the St. Lawrence River]. In a vote in the House of Commons that took place [Monday] night, they rejected the NDP motion to oppose it."

Calgary-based TransCanada wants to construct a marine terminal on the eastern shore of the St. Lawrence River to load supertankers with 700,000 to 1.1 million barrels of tar sands bitumen for export. The terminal would be located in a habitat critical for the endangered beluga whale.

The NDP put forward a motion in the House of Commons that states, "the proposed Port of Gros-Cacouna oil terminal, which will be used for the sole purpose of exporting unprocessed Canadian oil, will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy through the loss of well-paid jobs, will constitute an unacceptable environmental threat to the St. Lawrence ecosystem, including the beluga whale population, and therefore, is not consistent with the principle of sustainable development, and must be rejected."

At 6:55 pm on Monday, the House voted 94 in favour, 175 opposed to this motion.

After the vote, François Lapointe, the MP for Montmagny-Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, commented, "We knew that the Conservatives would be deaf to any criticism an oil, now we know that it's the same with the Liberals. This project of oil port, should it be built, would have major implications on the survival of the beluga population..."

This past August, the Chronicle-Herald reported, "A group of environmentalists worried about climate change delivered their message to federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during a Chester fundraising stop. ...They waved signs and called on the Liberal leader, riding high in the polls 14 months before an expected election, to take a strong stand against TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline. ...Robin Tress, a community organizer with the group Stop Energy East Halifax, said the Liberal leader has never asked for a climate review of the Energy East project..."

The following month, 350.org and Climate Action Now challenged Trudeau at a fundraiser that took place north of Barrie. They note, "Trudeau affirmed his support of Energy East, and his concern that Canadian resources reach the market in a responsible, sustainable way. He also pointed to a consensus among the top three political party leaders, 'Every political leader who’s gonna have the chance of being Prime Minister - that’s Mr. Mulcair, myself, and Mr. Harper - have all said that Energy East is something that we need to build.'"

But the Canadian Press has also reported, "The notion of a west-east pipeline is the cornerstone of the NDP leader’s energy policy. While he maintains Keystone is environmentally unsustainable and should never have gotten off the drawing board, Mulcair contends a cross-Canada pipeline would keep construction and refining jobs in Canada rather than exporting them to the United States. ...Mulcair said the cross-Canada pipeline should still be subject to a 'complete, thorough, credible' environmental assessment."

From October 26 to November 6, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and local allies will visit communities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to talk about why TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline is all risk and little reward for Atlantic Canada. Our tour will include public forums in Halifax (October 26), Cornwallis (October 27), Saint John (October 29), Fredericton (November 4), and Edmundston (November 6). For more about this tour, please click here.