FREDERICTON – The premier of New Brunswick says he’s optimistic an agreement on a national energy strategy will be reached this week when the country’s premiers and territorial leaders meet in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Brian Gallant said such a strategy would be a catalyst for projects like the proposed Energy East pipeline because it would set the guidelines for projects impacting various parts of the country.
The issue has long been under discussion, and while Gallant won’t get into specifics of the conversations between the premiers, he said it’s a complex issue.
“Energy and natural resource development is a provincial jurisdiction, so working together to come to a common set of principles and a common set of guidelines with mechanisms that we can use to be able to move important energy projects forward is a complex conversation,” he said Tuesday.
Gallant is a strong proponent of the proposed $12 billion Energy East pipeline which would move western crude from the oilsands to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
He said it would create thousands of jobs and give a much-needed boost to the economy of his province and the rest of the country.
Gallant said he would be disappointed if a national energy strategy is not reached this week, but said projects such as Energy East can still go ahead without it.
Erin Flanagan, oilsands analyst with the Pembina Institute, a national non-profit energy think tank based in Calgary says the energy strategy must be as much about climate change as it is about energy supply.
“If the energy strategy is simply about expanding market access, we aren’t going to be getting at those questions of climate change. Therefore, it won’t be a document that’s credible or effective really at bringing in some of the much needed transition issues across Canada,” Flanagan said.
Gallant agrees, saying discussion on energy projects and climate change must go hand in hand.
“We have to be working together constantly to combat climate change,” he said.