EDMONTON – Alberta’s energy minister says the violent disruptions at the Energy East pipeline hearings in Quebec are disconcerting and are hindering the debate.
But Marg McCuaig-Boyd said Alberta is determined to move forward and will work harder to reinforce its message on the importance of getting oil to the coasts to ship to oversea markets.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s working. I’m hearing from companies all the time that our climate leadership plan is helping the discussion,” McCuaig-Boyd said Tuesday.
“Maybe we have to tell the story more in the east.
“(But) it’s the right path. Standing up and yelling and doing that isn’t constructive in any situation.”
Protesters forced the cancellation of hearings this week in Montreal on the TransCanada (TSX:TRP) project. The $15.7-billion line would take oil from Alberta to terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.
On Tuesday, the National Energy Board cancelled all further hearings into the project until the board makes a decision regarding two of the three commissioners overseeing the review process.
Alberta, and by extension, the Canadian economy, have been dragged down by the prolonged slump in oil prices.
Alberta says a pipeline to get oil to overseas markets will mean a higher price for the product, but protesters worry about the environmental damage the pipeline could do.
Premier Rachel Notley’s government has taken steps in recent months to remove from the debate any criticism of Alberta’s environmental record in order to give it “social licence” to discuss energy infrastructure projects on their stand-alone merits.
Under Alberta’s climate-change plan, fees on larger-scale greenhouse gas emitters have been increased, there will be a cap on oilsands emissions, and next year a broad-based carbon tax will be levied on home heating bills and gas at the pumps.
Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the Montreal cancellations prove that Notley’s social licence plan is an expensive failure.
“Albertans were told that in exchange for paying $9 billion in carbon taxes over the next five years, projects like Energy East would be given a fair shake by the radical left and its activists within the environmental movement,” said Jean in a news release.
“It is crystal clear that there is no appeasement of these groups. There will be no ‘social licence’ gained by taxing Albertans.”