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By Chris Hannay (@channay)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre this morning, after many Quebec mayors raised objections to the Energy East pipeline going through their backyards.
But Energy East – which would carry Alberta oil across the Prairies, Northern Ontario and Quebec on its way to be refined in New Brunswick – isn’t the only pipeline facing opposition from mayors and other local groups. Indeed, it may not even be the most contentious.
That title may fall to Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from oil fields near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., for export.
Trans Mountain is much further along in the regulatory process than Energy East, and the National Energy Board is in the midst of hearings before it reports to cabinet with its recommendations in May.
Aboriginal groups and environmentalists have protested against the hearings, and, as in Quebec, local politicians have expressed concern. “It is evident that the NEB process is broken, and there is little value in a fact-finding process that has no reasonable prospect for testing evidence,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan wrote in a letter to Mr. Trudeau earlier this month, recommending the whole process be scrapped for now. Even B.C. Premier Christy Clark has come out against it.
The intensity of pipeline debates in British Columbia may not be fully translating east of the Rockies, said George Hoberg, a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia and a close observer of energy politics in the province.
“The most important thing to realize is that while public opinion on the pipeline is relatively evenly split across the province, pipeline opponents hold their views much more intensely than proponents,” Mr. Hoberg said. “There’s a strong sense among politicos out here that pipeline issues really hurt the Conservatives in the federal election for this precise reason.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
> The federal government will impose a new test on pipelines to measure how they will affect Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, The Globe’s Shawn McCarthy reports. The proposed measures will be applied to both Trans Mountain and Energy East, and Pacific NorthWest’s LNG export terminal, all of which are currently going through environmental assessment.
> The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is expected to rule this morning that the federal government discriminated against First Nations children by providing less money for welfare services on reserves than off.
> Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the House of Commons will vote on the next stage of the Iraq mission.
> Russia’s Foreign Minister says Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau “both expressed a desire to normalize relations” when they met at the G20 last November.
> And Peter MacKay won’t rule out a run for the Conservative leadership, though he jokes that he’s open for whatever opportunities come his way. “I wouldn’t rule out an opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
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WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
“[Interim Conservative leader Rona] Ambrose’s warning of renewed Western alienation was an echo of real, visceral frustration in the hard-hit West. But embracing the suggestion that Quebec owes a debt from equalization payments that must be paid in pipelines was bound to fuel rhetoric. The Bloc Québécois’s interim leader, MP Rhéal Fortin, jumped on it. ‘They’ve given themselves the right to act like the owners of Quebec in the name of Canadian unity,’ he said.”
– Campbell Clark (for subscribers) on pipeline politics.
Lawrence Martin (Globe and Mail): “Environmental considerations need to be addressed, but on balance going ahead with a trans-Canada pipeline is critical for Alberta, good for the economy and absolutely necessary for Canadian unity to prevail.”
Rob Breakenridge (Calgary Herald): “While the benefits of the proposed Energy East pipeline may seem obvious to many Albertans, we should be under no illusions about the existence of a very real and very motivated opposition to it.”
Graham Thomson (Edmonton Journal): “Indignation and finger wagging by Alberta politicians in recent years have resulted in precisely no new pipelines being built.”
Virginia Johnson (Globe and Mail): “Without personal connections, [refugees arriving in Canada] face a confusing and unfamiliar environment. Settlement agencies are not enough. So, how can we help? There are two ways to do this.”
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