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Manitoba premier Greg Selinger appears to back Energy East pipeline

Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson at our No Energy East public forum in Winnipeg, April 11, 2015.

Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson at our No Energy East public forum in Winnipeg, April 11, 2015.

Alberta premier Rachel Notley and Manitoba premier Greg Selinger met in Winnipeg yesterday to discuss climate change, hydro-electric dams and the Energy East pipeline.

While Premier Notley’s climate plan announced in Nov. 2015 allows for a 43 per cent increase in the tar sands, CBC reports, “Selinger praised Notley’s government and its recent commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Premier Selinger also commented, “Alberta’s climate leadership plan places the conversation on [the] Energy East [pipeline project] in an improved context as the country moves towards a low carbon future.”

What can we make of that comment?

In June 2015, the Calgary Herald reported, “Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd says Alberta’s NDP government will work with other provinces to overcome obstacles to the Energy East pipeline.” In Sept. 2015, Bloomberg News reported, “TransCanada’s Energy East line shouldn’t become a ‘political football’, Notley said, adding that she supports that pipeline because it helps create value from Alberta crude.” In Oct. 2015 when Premier Notley met with Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, the Globe and Mail reported, “Ms. Notley expounded on the value of building Energy East.” That same month, New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant stated after his meeting with her, “It’s very clear that she supports the Energy East pipeline.”

So it’s apparent Premier Notley is an advocate for the Energy East project.

As for her ‘climate leadership’ plan, it has been argued that it was intended to bolster the chances that the Energy East pipeline would be built.

In Nov. 2015, the Globe and Mail commented, “Alberta is hoping to dent fast-rising oil sands emissions in exchange for popular support for pipeline proposals…. Supporters of both [the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines] have come out in favour of more stringent environmental controls in the oil sands [after the United States rejected the Keystone XL pipeline].” And the Edmonton Journal also reported that month, “Notley said the new policy won’t guarantee new pipelines will be built, but will broaden the conversation about the merits of energy infrastructure for Alberta, Canada and other jurisdictions.”

As such, it’s also very likely that when Premier Selinger says “Alberta’s climate leadership plan places the conversation on Energy East in an improved context” it’s meant to be supportive of the pipeline. That`s certainly the view taken by the Wilderness Committee in Manitoba in a media release they issued yesterday.

The Council of Canadians has worked to have Manitoba oppose the Energy East pipeline.

In April 2015, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke against the pipeline to 300 people at a public forum in Winnipeg. In a Winnipeg Free Press op-ed at that time, Barlow and Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue wrote, “In Manitoba the affected waterways include the Assiniboine River, Red River and in the Shoal Lake watershed. It also crosses two metres below the sole aqueduct for Winnipeg’s drinking water.” Harden-Donahue’s report Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water further details the waterways in Manitoba put at risk by Energy East.

Our Winnipeg chapter has also been very active opposing Energy East and calling on the National Energy Board to include climate impacts in its review of the pipeline, especially within the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition. Their May 2015 report found that Energy East threatens the drinking water of more than 60 per cent of Manitoba residents. Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson has commented, “Without considering climate change and listening to people’s voices, any review of the pipeline will be incomplete and illegitimate. This is not something that can be ignored.”

As noted in this overview, the Energy East pipeline would run near the communities of Brandon, Carberry, Falcon Lake, Hamiota, Iles Des Chenes, Portage La Prairie, Rapid City, Ste. Anne, Spruce and Winnipeg. It would also impact the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation, the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, the Dakota Plains First Nation, the Long Plain First Nation and the Dakoto Tipi First Nation.

It is our hope that Premier Selinger will clarify his remarks and indicate his strong opposition to the Energy East pipeline prior the federal-provincial climate change summit promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for mid-March and before the April 19 provincial election in Manitoba. His contact information can be found here.

Further reading
Energy East pipeline = large dams in Manitoba (May 8, 2015)
Sapotaweyak Cree Nation blockades hydro line in Manitoba that could power Energy East pipeline (Jan. 26, 2015)