NEB’s Energy East Pipeline review heads to hostile Montreal

Mayor Denis Coderre, an opponent of Energy East calling for review process to be suspended, will speak first

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, right, looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference in Montreal, Tuesday, January 26, 2016. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, right, looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference in Montreal, Tuesday, January 26, 2016. (Graham Hughes/CP)

MONTREAL – The National Energy Board’s review of the Energy East Pipeline heads to hostile territory Monday when it resumes in Montreal, where the city’s mayor has called for the process to be suspended.

Denis Coderre, who has long opposed the $15.7-billion project, is scheduled to be the first to speak at the public hearings.

But he has said he is “not comfortable” with the review following revelations that former Quebec premier Jean Charest met last year with the board chairman and two review panel members while working as a consultant with TransCanada, the proponent behind the 4,500-kilometre pipeline.

“I’m not sure of the impartiality of the process,” he said Thursday. “I think they should take a break and look seriously at how it’s done.”

MORE: Evan Solomon on why Montreal’s pipeline problem is a proxy war

Steven Guilbeault, spokesman for environmental group Equiterre, said he has similar concerns even though his organization, as well as municipal leaders, First Nations representatives and others, also met with commissioners in advance of the hearings.

“I’m not saying that there is a conflict of interest, but certainly you want people to have trust in these processes,” he said, adding that he told commissioners at the time that the meetings were unusual.

“Perceptions are very important (and) right now there is a perception that there is a bias.”

He said the commissioners who participated in the meetings should recuse themselves or the NEB should ask them to step aside and replace them.

The NEB said last week it was accepting written comments until Sept. 7 on motions calling for two of the three people who met with Charest to step down from the panel over perceptions of bias. The board said it would consider those submissions and establish any further steps, if necessary.

The NEB has said that at no time during meetings with Quebec stakeholders did NEB officials permit any inappropriate discussions on pipeline projects under review.

Guilbeault said a suspension of the proceedings would allow TransCanada to complete its application, which he said fails to explain how the company plans to cross the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers.

With more than 60 per cent of Quebecers depending on the St. Lawrence for their drinking water, concerns about spills are driving opposition to the project in Quebec, he said.

MORE: Drama-free? Not so much on Energy East

Louis Bergeron, TransCanada’s Quebec vice-president, acknowledged that the Calgary-based energy company faces a “big challenge” given the number of opponents in the province, which include more than 300 municipalities, First Nations and the Quebec Farmers’ Association.

“I understand that it is of concern (among citizens), but I cannot change the past,” he said, referring to the Charest meeting which TransCanada says it didn’t initiate.

“We are in a new phase of the project and Mr. Charest is not present.”

The chief of the Mohawks of Kanesatake, Simon Serge Otsi, said he plans to question the legitimacy of the board when he speaks before the hearing.

“They have no credibility to speak to the First Nations,” he said.

Otsi said the project requires First Nations consent, something that was raised by Mi’kmaq communities at the public hearings earlier this month in New Brunswick.

“These are our lands. We never ceded them. We never surrendered,” he said.

While the pipeline has fomented dissent from some, others including business leaders and some construction industry unions have backed the project, saying it would create jobs and be a boon for the national economy. Other supporters say it would also help get Alberta’s land-locked crude resources to markets overseas.

The NEB plans additional hearings in several other cities including Quebec City before concluding in Kingston, Ont., in December. Quebec will hold its own environmental hearings.

The board must submit its report by March 2018 after which the federal cabinet will have the final say on the project.


NEB’s Energy East Pipeline review heads to hostile Montreal

  1. This is laughable at the very least. Canada is trending to disaster and Quebec is aiding that decline. Coderre is a cheap opportunist looking for leverage to extort more money from Western canadians. One of the key points of contention for Quebec and Ontario is realizing that Western Canada will one day equate the Canadians majority and power base. {Vancouver is key to Asia-Pacific ] Anyone with an understanding of politics, economics, and demographics can easily see the dis-comfort in Ontario and Quebec as the provinces will turn into rust-belt provinces similar to the Great Lake states. There is no salvaging the economies of these two provinces. The real bottom line … is no one needs their manufacturing plants or labor. Unfortunately that means real people pain and suffering. Coderre is the epitome of a greasy politician. He will be remembered similar to Chretien, and other ilk from Quebec. Oh and the “energy east pipeline” if not now.. it will be later when the real economic pain sets in.

  2. So Coderre is criticizing the NEB for meeting with a representative of Transcanada before the hearing started, even though they ALSO met with multiple critics of the pipeline (Equiterre, municipal leaders, indigenous groups) before the hearings)

    So one short meeting with Charest vs. multiple meetings with a wide range of opponents.

    Coderre is distorting the reality of what occurred. The NEB met with far more opponents of the pipeline before the hearing than proponents.

  3. Having the greatest Tidal resource in the World 100 Million tons of Water moving in & out of the Bay of Fundy as reported by the Water Bros, potentially generating 250 GigaWatts of energy (our daily opportunity loss) means, Canada can easily meet the demands of the recent Rome Encyclical & Washington Address: we must immediately enlist the Dutch marine Engineers who saved Venice, who will totally motivate the Engineers, Technologists & Technicians of New Brunswick & Nova Scotia viz: St Malo & Swansea Lagoon, who must also put up cables above all Canada’s Rail lines & provide Panto-Graphs on top of every Locomotive, as Montréal Municipal Rail is already doing, so that we never have Heat Domes ever again, lest they cause self Immolation & Atmosphere burnoff! Moreover, Paris must dynamically map the whole of our Planet’s Hydrosphere, (a staggering clean source of Energy)which is of course driven by the Moon’s revolution around the Earth.
    Prof M H Settelen, Acolyte of Sir Terry Matthews

Sign in to comment.