Federal Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau says Enbridge has not treated the people of British Columbia respectfully in its push to build the Northern Gateway pipeline.

"Enbridge needs to learn about public relations. You don't come in and treat people that way," said Garneau in an interview On the Coast with Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One in Vancouver.

The former astronaut and current member of parliament for Westmount-Ville-Marie also criticized the Conservative government for being "bulls in a china shop" in its support for the pipeline that would stretch nearly 1,200 kilometres between Bruderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, B.C.

Garneau says there's still scientific work to be done in assessing potential risks associated with the pipeline project, adding that the Conservative government should not look at environmental assessments like the Joint Review Panel as a burden, but as a necessity.

His comments come as five protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing Tuesday for sneaking into and disrupting the federal review panel's Vancouver community hearings into the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which are closed to the public.

Preparing for upcoming debate

Garneau is in Vancouver for the first Liberal leadership debate, which is set for Sunday, Jan. 20 at 1:00 p.m. PT at the Westin Bayshore.

He is running against Justin Trudeau, Martha Hall Findlay and six other candidates in the race to replace Interim Leader Bob Rae.

Earlier in the day, Garneau unveiled his national economic strategy, saying the world's economic focus is shifting to Asia and the Canadian economy will stagnate unless it works harder to improve trade with the region, including China, India, Singapore and Vietnam.

Garneau laid out a four-point plan to increase Asian trade, including clear rules on foreign investment, improving road and rail lines to help the movement of goods, and protecting the environment through science and evidence-based research.

He also said Canada must partner with aboriginal communities on the understanding that the country's economic success is tied to the success of First Nations.

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  • Vancouver

    Anti-pipeline protesters march to the Vancouver office of B.C. Premier Christy Clark on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    Anti-pipeline protesters march to the Vancouver office of B.C. Premier Christy Clark on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    Tzeporah Berman, author and environmentalist, speaks to the crowd in Vancouver on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Kelowna

    Anti-pipeline protesters in Kelowna on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Chilliwack

    Anti-pipeline protesters gather outside MLA John Les' office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Bella Bella

    Kids take part in anti-pipeline protest on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Kitimat

    Demonstrators in Kitimat on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    Anti-pipeline protesters arrive outside B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix's office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    Ben West of the Wilderness Committee speaks to anti-pipeline protesters outside B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix's office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    Anti-pipeline protesters arrive outside B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix's office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Vancouver

    B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix' speaks to anti-pipeline protesters in his office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Nanaimo

    Anti-pipeline protesters gather in front of B.C. MLA Leonard Krog's office.

  • Whistler

    Anti-pipeline protesters on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Victoria

  • Smithers

    Anti-pipeline protesters on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Montana

    Supporters of Defend Our Coast in Montana on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Parksville

    Anti-pipeline protesters gather outside B.C. Liberal Ron Cantelon's office on Oct. 24, 2012.

  • Victoria

    Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the B.C. legislature on Oct. 22, 2012.