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Mulroney & Ambrose back Energy East pipeline to spur trade with China

Mulroney is a Board member with the China International Trust and Investment Corp., a Beijing-based state-owned investment company of the People’s Republic of China.

Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to approve the Energy East pipeline to foster trade with China.

CTV reports, “Mulroney says that growing trade between Canada and China depends on Trudeau approving the Energy East Pipeline. Mulroney told Evan Solomon of CTV’s Question Period that Trudeau ‘could have a nation building exercise that would then allow him to service the Chinese and others more beneficially for Canada’, if Energy East and other pipelines are built.”

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose echoed Mulroney by stating, “If [Trudeau] isn’t going to listen to British Columbians about LNG and the rest of Canada about how important our energy sector is, I hope he listens to the Chinese because they want those commodities, and they want that energy infrastructure built.”

In mid-January, The Globe and Mail reported, “China wants to forge a historic free-trade deal with Canada, but a senior Chinese official said this will require Canadian concessions on investment restrictions and a commitment to build an energy pipeline to the coast.”

TransCanada, the company behind the Energy East pipeline, may have had tar sands bitumen exports to China in mind for several years.

In October 2012, The Globe and Mail reported, “In a presentation circulated among potential oil shippers earlier this year, TransCanada compared its project to Northern Gateway. It would cost $5.20 to $8.20 to send a barrel from Alberta to Shanghai via Northern Gateway, TransCanada then estimated. It would cost about $8.50 to send it via the east coast, making it economically feasible. …’They believe they can land crude in China at competitive prices to what it would cost to land it from the west coast’, said Laurie Smith, partner at Bennett Jones LLP who works with energy companies as they sort through their export options. ‘That’s something that is under very active development right now.'”

That article also noted, “The Eastern Canadian route extends to China by moving tankers through the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia and then north through the South China Sea.”

In September 2009, Mulroney stated, “A Canada-China investment agreement would send an important message to business and investors that foreign investment in both directions is a vital part of developing the full potential of the relationship. There have been discussions about a Canada-China Investment Agreement for more than 10 years. The time has come to get it done.”

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Act (FIPA) was signed in September 2012 and ratified in September 2014. At that time, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “This investment deal will give Canadian corporations operating in China a tool to fight any improvements in human rights, labour, or environmental standards in that country. Conversely, Chinese investors in the Alberta tar sands will use it to fight higher environmental standards in the Canadian energy sector.” That deal was also challenged in court by the Hupacasath First Nation. It argued it was not consulted on the deal as required by law and that FIPA’s investment protection provisions could be used to override Indigenous rights and give the balance of power on resource management to corporations rather than affected communities.

On August 31, Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discussed the possibility of a feasibility study to explore the benefits of a future Canada-China Free Trade Agreement.

The Trudeau government is expected to make its decision on the Energy East pipeline by June 2018.