The proposed Energy East pipeline dominated a closed-door discussion between the premiers of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick Wednesday in Saint John. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is in the New Brunswick city to address an energy conference as part of a swing through Eastern Canada to promote the $15.7 billion project proposed by TransCanada (TSX:TRP).
The project would transport more than a million barrels of western Canadian oil a day to refineries in Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in Saint John.
“We talked about how the Energy East project would allow New Brunswick, Quebec and the country to reduce its dependency on foreign oil,” Premier Brian Gallant said in an interview following the meeting.
“We also talked about how it is a safer mode of transport. Hundreds of thousands of rail cars each year go through major cities in the country.”
Gallant said he and Wall agree that a pipeline would stimulate economic growth and there is a need to continue to promote the project.
“It’s important for us to keep going to different areas of the country and to our respective provinces to talk about how we think this will have a positive impact on job creation and the economy,” Gallant said. “It’s great to have national leaders like Brad Wall talk about this in Toronto and in Saint John.”
Wall heads to Montreal Thursday for a meeting with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.
Energy East has run into stiff opposition in Quebec, where politicians, citizens and environmentalists question whether the ecological risks outweigh the economic rewards.
“We both recognize that different regions have different questions, concerns and suggestions. It’s important to recognize that and when we go around to speak about the benefits of the Energy East pipeline that we also take time to discuss the concerns,” Gallant said.
On social media, Wall has been at odds with mayors from the Montreal area who oppose Energy East.
Wall has pointed out the pipeline is expected to generate $55 million in economic benefits for Canada, including $4.3 billion in Saskatchewan and $9.3 billion in Quebec.
The Council of Canadians issued a statement calling Wall’s tour of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick “a desperate attempt to save a failing project.”
“Wall is acting as an industry lobbyist for a pipeline that’s a huge economic liability for Saskatchewan and all of Canada, not to mention an environmental and public health disaster,” said the council’s Daniel Cayley-Daoust.