QUEBEC – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says pipeline projects such as TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East venture are good in principle and that it is important for Canadians to benefit from the country’s energy products.
But Harper said any such projects in Canada will be subject to a rigorous independent analysis.
Harper said Friday that job-creation is his government’s top priority and that pipeline projects can help in that area.
The Energy East pipeline would deliver up to 1.1 million barrels per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Quebec in late 2017 and New Brunswick one year later.
The $12-billion project, which still faces regulatory hurdles, has the support of the Alberta and New Brunswick governments but it’s not clear yet whether Quebec has been won over.
“There are approval processes to look at environmental effects, the economic issues, to look at all those things and to come to independent evaluations,” Harper told a news conference in Quebec City.
“But obviously we think it’s a good idea in principle in terms of selling our energy products. We need to sell our energy products. It is, I think, a good idea that we find Pan-Canadian solutions so that all of this country benefits from our energy products and that we enhance our own energy security.
“The reality, anyone who looks at the business, is that the absolutely safest way to transport energy products is through pipelines. That’s the safest way you can go.”
Critics have already vowed to fight the Energy East project, which they describe as unsafe and unlikely to deliver on job creation and energy security promises. That position has, in part, led to repeated delays for another high-profile TransCanada project, the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States.
Harper was also asked about that project.
“Clearly this is a project that will create jobs on both sides of the border,” he said. “And in our judgment it is an important project not just for our economy and job creation but for the long-term energy security of North America.”