CALGARY – Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s public opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline has earned scorn from western leaders and jabs at the Quebec city’s own environmental and safety track record from Calgary’s mayor.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Mayor Coderre on this, however he’s wrong,” Naheed Nenshi said with a smile at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Friday. “Certainly he needs to hold out for a better deal for himself…that’s what mayors tend to do. But the deal has to be within reach.”
Nenshi suggested people in central Canada don’t understand they don’t fill their tanks with Canadian oil, and took a shot at Montreal’s environmental track record.
“That’s oil that’s come on a tanker from Venezuela or Saudi Arabia, and it’s come up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“So if you’re talking about protecting waterways, I could make a joke about how well Montreal protects that particular waterway over the last several months, but I won’t.”
The mayor appeared to be referring to the week-long dumping of eight billion litres of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River in November.
Nenshi suggested the Energy East pipeline can be modernized and brought up to better standards and will help Canada with “energy independence.” He then appeared to reference the derailment of a train carrying crude oil that killed 47 people and destroyed much of downtown Lac Megantic, Que. in July 2013.
“It helps us with more safety. I certainly don’t need to tell anybody in Canada or Quebec about the dangers of shipping oil by rail.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also took a shot at Quebec’s municipal leaders Thursday, tweeting “I trust Montreal area mayors will politely return their share of $10B in equalization supported by (the) west.”
“I’m not going to go nearly as far as Premier Wall yesterday, but I will say that this country works because prosperity for one part of the country is prosperity for the entire country,” Nenshi added Friday.
“We’ve got to get to real people here: Real people who want real jobs who want real economic growth and who also care about the environment. … And if the National Energy Board goes through its process and it’s a fair, clear, and transparent process, and that process results in an approval, then nobody, not me, not Mayor Corrigan in Burnaby, British Columbia, not Mayor Coderre, should be able to say ‘because of my own feelings, this shouldn’t go through.’ We’ve got a process, based on science, that we should be able to follow.”
Watch below: Calgary mayor confident National Energy Board will make final decision on Energy East pipeline
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley had a softer approach, calling Energy East criticism “short sighted.”
“This pipeline is part of building a strong Canada, it’s part of building a strong economy,” Notley said. “A pipeline is the safest way, the most efficient way (to ship oil) … that is the safe solution.”
While hosting Notley in Toronto, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne praised her Alberta counterpart for the NDP government’s climate change initiatives, saying those efforts are making “the national conversation about climate targets and pipelines easier.”
In Davos, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found himself in the midst of a battle between east and west and urged everyone to work together.
“I’m very much in the camp of both premiers Wynne and Notley, who demonstrated that Canada can and should work together on eco-issues for all of us. That’s the focus that I’ve always taken — collaborating, respectful, working together to solve the challenges that are facing all Canadians.”
Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party, said after three months in office, the public still doesn’t know where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands on the pipeline.
“The problem with Mr. Trudeau is that he was elected with the support of a lot of people that are anti-fossil fuel,” Ambrose told Global News Friday. “My pitch to him is: you need to step up. You need to say it. You need to say, ‘I support pipelines and the job creation that comes from pipelines.’”
The proposed pipeline would take Alberta crude as far east as an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., and would be capable of carrying up to 1.1 million barrels a day from the West to the East.
With a file from The Canadian Press