The premiers promoting a west-east oil pipeline are “bullish” on its prospects after TransCanada Energy, the company behind the proposal, signalled it is moving closer to being able to build it.
The topic, however, had to be dealt with delicately at a Council of the Federation meeting in light of the disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in which a train carrying crude oil derailed and blew up.
The pipeline would run from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in Saint John, N.B., traversing six provinces. TransCanada has been working to secure commitments on oil shipments that would make the project viable, which it indicated is going well.
New Brunswick Premier David Alward was similarly optimistic, and said he has had good signs from the other provinces.
“They’ve all been very open to that discussion – I don’t have any concerns at all,” he told The Globe and Mail in an interview after meetings with his fellow premiers. “We’re bullish on the project because it’s a nation-building project, it’s going to have a positive impact on Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said no province had indicated it would block the pipeline.
“I’m still very optimistic to know that each jurisdiction will do the work that it needs to do to receive the approvals that it needs to from independent approval processes,” she told reporters.
The premiers indicated they did not speak extensively about it in their meetings. Asked about the pipeline proposal by reporters, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois replied: “I am not going to talk about this.”
Her office indicated she is awaiting a report on the line. Sources in another premier’s office suggested Ms. Marois also did not want to talk about it so soon after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, in which an estimated 47 people died.
Mr. Alward expressed understanding: “We feel very good about the work that is taking place and I have full confidence in the next steps,” he said. “At the same time, it is important to respect the people of Quebec and what terrible events they are dealing with right now.”
Ontario said conditions would have to be met to go forward.
“We expect the highest safety and environmental standards to be met,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said. “The duty to consult with First Nations is important to us in Ontario, and communities have to be consulted.”