Today I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate two specific questions about the cancellation of the Energy East project, on behalf of Albertans and all Canadians. Unfortunately, I received no real answers. 

Hon. Betty Unger:

My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate also concerns today’s cancellation of the Energy East pipeline.

This pan-Canadian project was essential for our country’s growth, long-term prosperity — nearly half a million dollars a year — and overall energy security. As an Albertan, I am profoundly disappointed that we cannot move Western Canadian oil to tidewater through that route.

The Prime Minister could have championed the Energy East pipeline, celebrated our energy sector, as it does some other sectors, and helped to share in its prosperity. Unfortunately, he did not.

Senator Harder, my question to you is simply this: Why didn’t the Prime Minister and the natural resources minister lend greater support to this project?

Senator Harder:

I thank the honourable senator for her question. Let me reiterate: The Government of Canada has been, and continues to be, a strong advocate for the resource sector in Canada, the energy sector in particular, that it is important for the energy sector and the export of our energy product to have predictable regulatory frameworks. Those are in place. It is also important for us to ensure that the regulatory process is transparent and is applied in a way in which confidence is engendered in all Canadians.

Senator Unger:

During the current debates surrounding the tax changes for small business, the government has claimed it’s standing up for the middle class. The Energy East pipeline would have generated 15,000 jobs for middle-class Canadians in every province along the route. Yet, the government did nothing to champion the project. Yes, this is what I believe was one of the factors causing TransCanada to cancel the project. Through the NEB, the government put up roadblocks and then did not apply those same standards to oil, imported to Atlantic Canada from foreign countries such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

Could the government leader please tell us if the government has plans to apply their upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions tests to oil being imported from foreign sources as they did to Energy East? If not, why not?

Senator Harder:

Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question. Let me reiterate that the Government of Canada is committed to this sector. It is committed to an independent regulatory process through the NEB. That process has the respect of the government. It is one in which the private sector has been successful, and the private sector, in this case, has made a decision not to continue with an application. It is not for the government to determine or to question the private sector decision. It is one that we all have to deal with the consequences of, and that is what the government is doing.

Senator Unger:

Senator Harder, why the double standard? Why apply these greenhouse gas emissions to a Canadian company and yet not apply them to these foreign countries that are shipping their oil to our east coast? Why the double standard?

Senator Harder:

I thank the honourable senator for her question. There’s not a double standard in play. The reality is that the NEB has a jurisdiction, and it is its jurisdiction that is governed by Canadian law and processes. It’s that application before the NEB that has led to, as I said earlier, successful pipeline projects and has, in the case of the Energy East, been one in which the business decision of the company has suspended indefinitely this project.