NB Liberal Leader calls for 'Patriotic Pipeline'

1/23/2013

SAINT JOHN – If New Brunswick is to be successful in its push for a pipeline to bring Alberta crude oil east to the Port City, its strategy needs to take on a distinctive “patriotic” tone that will sell it as a national infrastructure project that will bring the country together, says Liberal Leader Brian Gallant.

“It’s an opportunity to unite all Canadians in a common goal - it’s an opportunity to show that if we all work together we can have economic benefits and strong social programs for all Canadians,” he told Rotarians at a luncheon in Saint John on Monday.

He compared the west-east pipeline to past national infrastructure projects such as the railway and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Gallant said New Brunswick has to prepare to battle the potential argument that a west-east pipeline need only go as far as Quebec.

“If we can convince the nation that we need a west-east pipeline and that we need a national strategy, those in Quebec who are in favour of it might say, ‘sure we’re all for it, but let’s stop here,’” he said.

To counteract that thinking, Gallant said, New Brunswick has to “constantly communicate that it’s in the national interest” to see such a project go ahead.

The politician said it’s clear that Canada needs to diversify its petroleum markets and one of the best ways to do that would be to extend a pipeline east to Saint John, the home of the country’s largest oil refinery.

And establishing a west-east pipeline opens up the possibility of using existing infrastructure until it gets to Quebec, he said.

“The fact that we could use some infrastructure that is already there would decrease the environmental impact we would see by trying to move the oil,” said Gallant.

In making a case for a new pipeline to extend east beyond Quebec, he said New Brunswick is an experienced player in the crude oil business and has a deep-water port in Saint John alongside the refinery.

“Here in New Brunswick, energy products are the largest percentage of our domestic exports,” he said.

Gallant said New Brunswick’s fiscal situation and economy needs the boost that a west-east pipeline would bring in terms of construction jobs and long-term work for residents.

“We face many challenges, but there are some opportunities around us and I believe the west-east pipeline is one of them,” he said.

In December, the New Brunswick legislature formally pledged its united support for the pipeline and the province’s leading parties vowed to do everything in their power to make it happen.

The debate around the motion that was passed in the Legislature highlighted the fact that New Brunswick has the refining capacity, the skilled workers and the deepest port on the east coast of North America, as well as the expertise to re-energize Canada’s export potential.

“The case for a west-east pipeline is clear and I welcome the support of members of the opposition as well as leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic parties of New Brunswick,” Premier David Alward said at the time.

Alward has addressed the need for the pipeline to move forward and its benefits as a national project.

“By working together I truly believe that New Brunswick can emerge as a new Canadian energy powerhouse,” he said in December.

And while the provincial Conservatives and the Opposition Liberals are behind the west-east pipeline, Gallant says the project needs leadership and a more focused effort from New Brunswick’s politicians and business community to make it a reality. He suggested that government leaders, the business community, as well as pipeline and oil companies meet to move the file forward.

“We do need more action,” he said.

(Telegraph Journal)