TORONTO—Concerns raised by Central Canada over the proposed Energy East pipeline project should not deteriorate into provincial infighting, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said after a telephone chat with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.
“I certainly hope not,” Wynne said about relations breaking down in an interview with The Canadian Press. “I had that explicit discussion with Premier Prentice, and we agree that this can’t be an east versus west (issue). That’s not what this is about.”
Wynne said she reached out to Prentice so he understood the principles that Ontario and Quebec want considered in the approval process for the proposed $12-billion pipeline, which would carry western crude to refineries in eastern Canada.
“We’re not looking to block, we’re not,” insisted Wynne. “There are Ontario industries that are completely dependent on the oilsands in Alberta. We are in this together.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Wynne agreed last week on a list of “principles” for project, such as having contingency plans and emergency response programs in place, making sure First Nations are consulted, and that proponents consider the project’s environmental impact and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“These are not barriers, they’re not conditions,” said Wynne. “They’re principles whereby we can work together to make sure that this works for everyone.”
The Saskatchewan legislature passed a motion Nov. 26 calling on Ontario and Quebec to recognize the National Energy Board (NEB) as the appropriate body to review the pipeline proposal, and Wynne agreed.
“We are not going to preempt the National Energy Board’s process,” she said. “We are going to feed into it.”
Wynne stopped short of criticizing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, but said it wasn’t a good idea to have the provinces bickering over such a major issue.
“What I worry about is injecting a confrontational tone into this discussion,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important for the country that we find a way to work this out.”
Wynne and Prentice agreed to meet in Toronto in early December to talk more about the concerns raised by Ontario and Quebec.
“Premier Prentice and I have a very constructive relationship and I’m very optimistic about our ability to work together,” she said.
TransCanada Corp. has filed an application to use a repurposed national gas pipeline to carry crude two-thirds of the way across the country, and to build a new pipeline extension that would lead to saint John, N.B.