Canada’s new federal government won’t try to pick and choose the energy megaprojects it wants to push across the finish line, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, after an early morning meeting with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
“For 10 years, we had a government that acted rather as a cheerleader for such projects instead of acting as a responsible referee and establish a clear, open, rigorous, and transparent approval process—and that’s what we intend to do,” Trudeau told media.
“My responsibility as prime minister is to make sure that on national projects, we’re behaving in a way that both contributes to the economy, to a secure environment, to bringing people together, and mostly to creating a better future.”
Coderre said the 82 Montreal-area municipalities that declared their opposition to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline were not acting out of any disrespect for western provinces. “At the end of the day it’s all about being respected,” he said. “It’s to be responsible and have a balanced approach between economic development and sustainable development,” since “there’s no Plan B for the planet.”
On Monday, ahead of his national TV show Tuesday evening, comedian Rick Mercer released one of his trademarked “rants” expressing his full-throated support for Energy East. “This has nothing to do with Montreal, this has nothing to do with Quebec,” he said. “This is about one part of Canada trying to get their natural resources to the world market,” making money that has enabled “have” provinces like Alberta to contribute to interprovincial transfer payments.
Last Thursday, when he announced the Montreal Metropolitan Community’s opposition to Energy East, Coderre said the project would bring the city an estimated $2 million per year in economic benefits, against a $1- to $10-billion price tag in the event of a major diluted bitumen spill.