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Council of Canadians challenges TransCanada’s “information day” in Saint John

The Council of Canadians has responded to a TransCanada “information day” in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The company had announced, “TransCanada is holding a Safety & Emergency Response Information Day in Saint John on Thursday, November 5 from 4-8 p.m. You are invited to attend to learn more about pipeline safety and emergency management. You will have the opportunity to speak with TransCanada experts and see live demonstrations.”

TransCanada is holding 22 such “local events” across Canada, including upcoming “information days” in Winnipeg (Nov. 17), Regina (Nov. 19) and Thunder Bay (Nov. 30).

But CBC reports, “Several groups in Saint John and around [New Brunswick] are calling for public meetings about the project, saying potential health and safety issues are being ignored by the pipeline proponents.”

The article notes, “Mark D’Arcy, an Energy East campaigner in New Brunswick for the Council of Canadians, said TransCanada has not gained the trust of people in New Brunswick. ‘They prefer to keep people and communities isolated and uninformed about the details of their projects’, he said. ‘Many affected communities in New Brunswick don’t even know the route of the tar sands pipeline, and that it is proposed to run beside their rivers and bays.’ …Leanne Sutton, chairwoman of the Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association, said in a news release that the ‘trade-show format’ of the meetings did not allow proper discussion on health and public safety issues.”

The Council of Canadians is asking the City of Saint John to hold public meetings on issues such as fire response and spill clean up plans.

Additionally, the CBC report highlights, “[Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau has been non-committal about the pipeline proposal… But Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc [the Liberal MP for the riding of Beauséjour, New Brunswick] said on Thursday [Nov. 5] that he recognizes the potential economic impact the pipeline could have on the province.”

Given the Energy East pipeline project would facilitate a 40 per cent expansion of the tar sands in northern Alberta, and given the scientific fact that 85 per cent of the tar sands must remain in the ground to keep global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius upper limit, we are disappointed to hear the Government House Leader not acknowledge those facts in his statement.

Reuters reports, “The Liberals [have] pledged to ‘restore robust oversight’ into the environmental assessment process.” The Council of Canadians is calling for a restoration and enhancement of the protections taken from the Navigable Waters Protection Act by the Harper government at the behest of Big Oil and pipeline companies. We are also calling for Harper’s Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) to be replaced by a new Sustainability Assessment Act that would ensure all proposed projects are assessed on the basis of their individual and cumulative impacts and upstream and downstream climate pollution. This new Act would also ensure fair public participation and respect for Indigenous rights.

To read more on TransCanada’s “information day” in Saint John, please see Groups & landowners want the City of Saint John, not TransCanada, to take the lead on public safety and emergency planning.

For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.