Pipeline: Alward should seek TransCanada concessions, critics say

Premier has made no special requests related to estimated $12-billion west-east pipeline project

Green Party Leader David Coon says the proposed TransCanada Corp. west-east pipeline warrants more debate. (CBC)

Critics of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed west-east pipeline are questioning why the Alward government hasn’t demanded concessions in return for allowing construction in the province.

“This has been such a bandwagon, where the Liberals and the NDP piled on with the Conservatives, and said, ‘OK, great, bring it on’, without any debate,” said Green Party Leader David Coon.

Premier David Alward has made no special requests of TransCanada related to the estimated $12-billion project, an office spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

But B.C. Premier Christy Clark has been talking tough.

“If the proposal that British Columbia gets its fair share, and you know, if that’s going to cause such a big problem that there are trade barriers, there’s a very easy way to solve that —no pipeline,” she said on July 25.

B.C. is looking for assurances that the costs of top-notch prevention and mitigation of oil spills on land or sea, will be covered.

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Alward mum on deal to save rail service in northeastern N.B.

Train Tracks If there is a deal in place to save rail service in northeastern New Brunswick, Premier David Alward isn’t letting on.

As first reported on CTV News, the deal would include both Ottawa and Fredericton and while an announcement is expected before the end of the month, Alward wouldn’t confirm the details.

The premier was in Fredericton Friday to talk about a job subsidy program and was asked about CTV’s report about a deal to save the CN rail line through northeastern New Brunswick.

“Today, I’m not prepared to say exactly what number it’s going to mean,” said Alward.

“What I do believe, though, is investing in that line to ensure that we have industrial capacity in the north is important.”

CN gave notice a year ago that it would abandon the line that runs through Miramichi and Bathurst, citing maintenance costs and declining margins.

Calling it a vital Maritime link, the province and Ottawa pledged to consider saving the rail service.

Sources have told CTV News the federal and provincial governments will contribute $35 million and that the deal with be announced before the end of the month.

The communities that depend on the line are eagerly awaiting confirmation of the deal and even political opponents of the government say it’s something the province should be buying into.

“This is critical to Miramichi and to all of northern New Brunswick,” said Bill Fraser, Liberal MLA for the Miramichi area.

“I understand CN needs to be able to have a business case in order to be profitable. Nobody argues that, but the government has a responsibility to ensure that vital pieces of infrastructure that are attracting industry here and maintaining our industry is in place.”

While Alward wouldn’t confirm whether the deal has been made, he indicated that he would support it.

“I’m confident that this is a good decision to be taken so that the industrial base that we see in the north now, the potential to grow industry in the north, will have a piece of infrastructure that is strategic,” he said.

CN would not comment on the deal when asked about it Friday.

Originally published in CTV Atlantic