Trudeau Should 'Champion' Energy Sector, Brad Wall Says

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REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should take a stand and support the Energy East pipeline.

Trudeau said last week that his role as prime minister in thorny issues such as pipelines is to bring people together and secure a better future for Canadians.

Wall disagrees.

"We have a referee. It's the National Energy Board and it's the regulatory bodies and they should do their job, to be sure," Wall said Monday after a speech to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention.

trudeau brad wall
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens as Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall responds to a question on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

"But in the national government and in the Prime Minister's Office, we need a champion for the energy sector, especially for a project that's basically two-thirds conversion."

Trudeau made his comment after meeting with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. Coderre and the organization that represents Montreal-area municipalities have come out against Energy East. They argue the environmental risks associated with it far outweigh the economic benefits.

Wall said he's looked at the objections.

"If you sift through some of the rhetoric, they just don't like oil, and I don't think that's a good enough reason to hold up a pipeline that will benefit all of the country."

Energy East would transport about one million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in New Brunswick.

"This is treatment that's uneven and unfair to the energy sector at a time when that sector does needs a champion in the federal government."

The premier also said new rules announced last week for assessing major resource projects such as oil pipelines are puzzling.

The Liberal government beefed up review mechanisms for new pipelines. One change is that such projects are to be assessed in part on greenhouse gas emissions produced in the extraction and processing of any oil they propose to carry.

An environmental review is essential, Wall said, but he added that it appears Ottawa is treating the energy sector differently than other industries.

"We don't do that with cars. We don't do that with chemicals that go across this country freely," he said.

"This is treatment that's uneven and unfair to the energy sector at a time when that sector does needs a champion in the federal government."

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