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Council of Canadians writes Saint John-Rothesay candidates about the Energy East pipeline

Energy East. Our Risk. Their RewardThe proposed 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline has become a central issue in the riding of Saint John-Rothesay this election.

On September 10, Conservative leader Stephen Harper was welcomed at a by-invitation-only campaign stop at the Irving oil refinery in Saint John by billionaire and Irving Oil owner Arthur Irving. Harper highlighted in his speech his support for the pipeline and, as CBC reported then, “criticized Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair for not giving outright support to the pipeline proposal.”

Two weeks ago, the Globe and Mail reported, “In this down-on-its-heels Maritime city, the potential of Energy East, the proposed TransCanada pipeline that would carry Alberta crude to the Irving refinery here, is looming large in the election campaign, and creating some unlikely tensions and allegiances. It is pitting the Liberal candidate, Wayne Long, against his leader, Justin Trudeau, and seems to have made a Conservative partisan out of one of the most senior members of the usually non-partisan Irving family. The NDP candidate, Angela-Jo (AJ) Griffin, meanwhile, is flagging environmental concerns, and refuses to support it until she has more information.”

And CBC reports this morning, “TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline is continuing to be a thorny issue in the Saint John-Rothesay campaign as the three main parties head into the final days of the campaign trying to woo swing voters.” That article highlights Conservative candidate and incumbent MP Rodney Weston supports the pipeline.

It also notes, “Liberal Wayne Long acknowledges that Trudeau has a ‘more cautious approach’ over the pipeline than he does …NDP candidate AJ Griffin said her party wants to make sure the proper oversight is given to the pipeline before it is receives permission to move ahead. …[And] Green candidate Sharon Murphy is the only candidate who is trying to divert the political debate from the pipeline to investing in clean technology.”

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has now written the candidates.

She tells them, “The Energy East project puts much at risk and offers little reward, including for Saint John. We are concerned about the prospect of a large scale diluted bitumen spill in one of the many waterways the pipeline crosses. …In New Brunswick, the project crosses over 280 rivers and streams including the Tobique and Madawaska Rivers, as well as a Salmon River and Coal Creek quickly flowing into Grand Lake. The pipeline also crosses near protected drinking water wellfield areas and traverses near one of Saint John’s drinking water intakes.”

Harden-Donahue also highlights TransCanada’s history of failing to detect pipeline leaks, the company’s poor track record with job promises, and the climate pollution the pipeline would generate.

Most public opinion polls suggest a Liberal minority government is likely after the October 19 vote.

The Liberal candidate in Saint John-Rothesay vows he’ll fight every day in the Liberal caucus for Energy East.

Yesterday evening, Liberal national campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier stepped down after an email he sent to TransCanada was made public. The Canadian Press reports that a “detailed email [was sent] to people behind the Energy East pipeline with advice on how and when to lobby a new government — including a Liberal minority.” In it, Gagnier “advises five TransCanada Corp. officials to target the right people in a new government as quickly as possible so they can help shape either Liberal or NDP decisions on a national energy strategy. Such a lobbying effort would be needed to ensure the planned ‘in-service; dates of projects like Energy East aren’t put at risk, the email said.”

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