The Double Standard that Killed Energy East

Last week, the United States slapped a 220 per cent tariff onto Bombardier C-Series jets. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre were understandably upset considering Bombardier employs thousands of Quebec citizens and contributes significant tax dollars to the City of Montreal. In his public comments about the new tariff, Couillard called for national solidarity, claiming that this trade dispute not only impacts Quebec, but all Canadians.

My United Conservative colleagues and I find it incredibly rich for Couillard to try and rally national support for a Quebec-based company that is heavily subsidized by Canadian taxpayers when he himself has refused to acknowledge the national benefits of the Energy East pipeline project. It’s equally rich for Coderre to reject the pipeline over environmental concerns while dumping millions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Laurence Seaway. With news this week that TransCanada will abandon Energy East, and the subsequent celebrations of these Quebec politicians, it’s more important than ever for us to stand up and vocally defend our province and our industry.

This must be called out for what it is – a double standard that the Trudeau Liberals seem more than happy to perpetuate as a means of retaining seats in Quebec in the next election. Are aerospace jobs in Quebec more important or valuable than energy jobs in Alberta? We certainly don’t think so, but it’s unclear where our Prime Minister stands given his silence on the issue and his willingness to let Energy East go without a fight. When federal energy minister Jim Carr says it is the business case and economics, he’s wrong.  It is the government moving the regulatory goal posts which changed the business case.  If economics was the case, then Bombardier should have been allowed to fail a long time ago.

Furthermore, our own Premier has been largely silent when it comes to Energy East. Despite the jobs it would have created, and despite her vocal support of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project, she has failed to advocate for a project that would have achieved access to new markets for our product, created thousands of jobs in resource extraction here in Alberta, pipeline construction across the country, and refining jobs in New Brunswick and Quebec. Not to mention it would have helped Eastern Canada end its reliance on oil imports from countries with terrible environmental and human rights records. It’s clear that Premier Notley long ago picked winning and losing pipeline projects, and as we now know, Energy East didn’t make the cut.

Through all of this one thing is clear: Justin Trudeau, Rachel Notley, Philippe Couillard and Denis Coderre are all using Alberta’s energy industry, and those who rely on it to support their families, as pawns in their political games and Albertans continuously find themselves on the losing end.

Despite these failures from the Notley NDP and the Trudeau Liberals, the United Conservatives will always be hard at work defending our energy industry, and the people who rely on it. Projects like Energy East bring with them many benefits, not the least of which is hope and opportunity for Albertans – who have been through more hardship in the last two years than Quebec has in the last two decades. It’s time our fellow Canadians recognized that.

Prasad Panda is the MLA for Calgary-Foothills and the United Conservative Party Economic Development and Trade Critic.