January 21, 2016 5:01 pm

Wall criticizes Montreal-area mayors for opposing Energy East pipeline

Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall criticized municipal leaders in Quebec after mayors from the greater Montreal area spoke out against TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline.

Sean Lerat-Stetner / Global News
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REGINA – Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall took a shot at municipal leaders in Quebec on Thursday after mayors from the greater Montreal area came out against TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline.

“I trust Montreal area mayors will politely return their share of $10B in equalization supported by (the) west,” Wall said in a tweet.

On Thursday, the Montreal Metropolitan Community, which represents 82 jurisdictions, said it is opposed to the project.

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READ MORE: Greater Montreal mayors come out against TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline

Montreal mayor and current president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, Denis Coderre, said the organization has determined the environmental risks outweigh any benefits for the region.

“We want to have some checkout, some evaluation, some benchmark regarding public safety, regarding the true economic impact, regarding the way it will pass,” Coderre said.

In an official statement, Wall said that the constituents of Quebec municipalities will benefit from $10 billion in equalization payments this year. Those transfer payments, he said, are supported by both the energy sector and taxpayers in western Canada.

“This is a sad day for our country when leaders from a province that benefits from being part of Canada can be this parochial about a project that would benefit all of Canada, including these Quebec municipalities,” Wall said.

If built, the Energy East pipeline would transport Alberta crude as far east as an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B. The proposed project would include an existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal, plus a new pipeline that would be constructed through Quebec.

“We will continue to listen to other elected leaders in Quebec and stakeholders across the province as we take their concerns and input seriously,” said Jonathan Abecassis with TransCanada. “The overriding fact is that pipelines remain the safest way of transporting the oil and other flammable products Quebecers need.”

Coderre said the pipeline is worth about $2 million a year in economic benefits to the Montreal area, while a major oil spill cleanup could cost between $1 billion and $10 billion.

In his statement, Wall also reiterated his confidence in the safety of pipelines.

“Pipelines are a safe and environmentally-friendly way to transport oil – certainly safer and more environmentally-friendly than rail,” he said.

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News and The Canadian Press

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