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Quebec Environment Minister, Activists Concerned About Pipeline

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Quebec Premier Pauline Marois's willingness to examine a proposal to pipe Alberta oil and eventually oilsands crude to the province has some Quebec environmentalists worried. (Alamy)
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois's willingness to examine a proposal to pipe Alberta oil and eventually oilsands crude to the province has some Quebec environmentalists worried. (Alamy)

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois's willingness to examine a proposal to pipe Alberta oil and eventually oilsands crude to the province has some Quebec environmentalists worried.

"It means Quebecers will have dirty hands," said Daniel Green, the co-president of la Société pour Vaincre la Pollution, an anti-pollution group.

The concern comes after Canadian premiers met in Halifax for two days to discuss the Canadian economy and possibilities for collaboration on energy issues.

On Friday, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said her government was ready to exchange ideas on the proposal in good faith, but she emphasized technical, economic and environmental questions will all be studied by a working group with Alberta before her government makes any decisions about piping in oil.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she welcomed the opportunity to talk about Alberta's experiences on energy development and said that her discussions with Quebec were not exclusive: she'd also been in discussions with New Brunswick Premier David Alward over the last three or four months.

The plan to pump Alberta crude oil to Quebec has already been put in motion.

Calgary-based company Enbridge has applied to the National Energy Board to reverse the flow of a pipeline between southwestern Ontario and Montreal in order to complete the link.

The federal government supports the pipeline, saying that it will create jobs and bring down the price at the gas pump in Quebec.

But Quebec Environment Minister Daniel Breton and many environmental activists are concerned about the risk of spills.

Some skeptics also see the plan as a ploy to pump oil to the east coast so it can be shipped overseas.

Green said he wants a public study of the project.

"A closed door review between bureaucrats is not the way to go," he said.

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