Given the current spat between Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, it’s worth revisiting MLI’s commentary on the energy East Pipeline debate. Wall has accused Notley of conceding that Ontario and Quebec can veto the pipeline if Alberta’s record on Oil Patch greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t improve. Notley responded that negotiations are preferable to confrontation and accused Wall of “showboating”. Who’s right?
The dust up at the Council of the Federation meetings this week in St. John’s continues a debate from late last year, when then Alberta Premier Jim Prentice met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard to discuss “conditions” for approval of the pipeline by the Eastern Provinces. MLI Senior Fellow Dwight Newman described this as a “shameful state of affairs” in a December, 2014, Globe and Mail column that clearly debunked the notion that the provincial leaders had any constitutional authority to make demands. A long line of cases recognize that interprovincial pipelines are a mode of transportation. “The case law has also long been clear that provinces cannot exercise their jurisdiction in ways that interfere with interprovincial transportation” explains Newman, who goes on to underline the importance to the nation of these principles: “Had every province felt free to interfere with every interprovincial transportation project at will – or even to threaten it under the guise of unconstitutional ‘conditions’ – there very possibly would have been no national railways and no Canada to speak of”.
Newman also appeared on CTV News Channel to discuss his views on the issue.
Also, in a November, 2014, Globe and Mail column, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley has explained that Energy East is vital to Canada’s interests, but not for reasons some politicians claim. It won’t “keep refining jobs in Canada” or lower gas prices for Canadians. But it will help Canada access new markets and get the world price for its oil, something worth billions in wages, tax revenues and new investment.