Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should not go after critics of the cancelled Energy East pipeline project, but should look to his own actions.
Scheer spoke in Edmonton about Trudeau’s recent social media comments accusing those critics of using the project’s demise to pit regions of Canada against each other.
"I just find it odd that every time the prime minister makes a decision where Canadians are upset by the result of that, that he somehow blames them," Scheer said Tuesday. "There are a lot of people upset with the decision to kill Energy East."
Scheer said the issue does not stoke divisions because all of Canada would have benefited from the project, including oil workers in Alberta, trades workers in Central Canada and refinery workers in New Brunswick.
"The anger that is being felt toward this Liberal government is national in scope," said Scheer. "I reject the assertion that the prime minister is making.
"The prime minister decided to change the regulatory process."
Last week, TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) announced it was shelving its Energy East line, which would have taken crude from Alberta across Canada to ports and refineries in New Brunswick. The company cited "changed circumstances."
TransCanada said in a letter to the National Energy Board that it was abandoning the project because of the board’s decision to consider greenhouse gas emissions from producing and processing the oil that would have been transported in the pipeline. That was a change the NEB made at the behest of the government.
The premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick have expressed disappointment, while Quebec politicians, along with Indigenous and environmental groups, have welcomed the project’s cancellation.
On the weekend, Trudeau took to Facebook to attack his critics. He said they were "stoking national divisions" by going after his government on a decision tied to changing market conditions.
He warned that festering regional tensions could lead to a return to debilitating unity debates of decades past.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Trudeau’s accusations are out of touch.
"Not only is this arrogant, it’s a pretty transparent and desperate attempt to deflect away from the actual issue at hand, which is the federal government’s responsibility for the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline," said Wall.
"I will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan and for pipeline projects that are in the best interest of not only the West, but all of Canada."
New federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the regulatory move was the right decision, because energy projects must meet Canada’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"It’s pretty clear that the people of Quebec had in their minds the protection of the environment, which is something that all Canadians believe in," said Singh. "We want to make sure that any energy project that we go forward with has to respect our environmental goals.
"This is a project that didn’t satisfy those concerns, so I think it’s very clear that we should not in any way blame people who are defending the environment."