OTTAWA — The Opposition Conservatives are tearing a strip off the Liberal government over TransCanada’s decision to cancel the Energy East pipeline project.
Deputy Tory leader Lisa Raitt is blaming the decision squarely on what she described as the “disastrous” Liberal policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Today is the result of the disastrous energy policies promoted by Justin Trudeau and his failure to champion the Canadian energy sector,” Raitt told a news conference on Parliament Hill.
New Liberal regulations on Canadian energy projects have forced companies to adhere to standards not enforced in other countries, giving exporters in Venezuela, Saudia Arabia and Algeria a competitive advantage, she continued.
“Justin Trudeau claims to support the middle class, but the truth is that the very people that the prime minister is claiming to help are the people most hurt by his misguided policies.”
Energy Minister Jim Carr shrugged off Raitt’s broadsides, insisting that the TransCanada decision was motivated entirely by business considerations influenced by the state of commodity prices. He also noted that the government already approved two other projects, the Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions.
“Our government has approved two major export pipelines that are now under construction, and a third is expected to start soon. The Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 projects alone represent over $11.6 billion in investment and will support thousands of jobs,” he said in a statement.
“Our government would have used the same process to evaluate the Energy East Pipeline project that saw the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 projects approved. Nothing has changed in the government’s decision-making process.”
Carr said there are signs of growth in the energy sector despite “market challenges” fostered by the persistently low price of oil.
“Canada is open for business. We offer a stable and predictable investment climate, world-class energy reserves, proximity to global markets, a skilled workforce and enabling services and technology.”
Energy East had been proposed as a way to move Alberta oilsands production as far east as an Irving Oil operation in Saint John, N.B.
Supporters say Energy East was necessary to expand Alberta’s markets and decrease its dependency on shipments to the United States. Detractors raised questions about the potential environmental impact.
Calgary-based TransCanada (TSX:TRP) had announced last month that it was suspending its efforts to get regulatory approvals for the mega projects.
It will now inform the federal and provincial regulators that it will no longer be proceeding with its applications for the projects.
“After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications,” CEO Russ Girling said in a statement.
He added that TransCanada will also withdraw from a Quebec environmental review.
The Canadian Press