Que. — As Luc Villeneuve begins talking to a reporter about his
renewable energy foundation, he is abruptly interrupted outside the
conference room where public hearings on Energy East are taking place.
"You didn't come here in an electric car, did you?" truck driver Michel Morin asks in a taunting voice.
Villeneuve, 46, a little shaken, replies he would love to buy such a car.
there is oil in the car you drove here, isn't there?"
Morin aggressively counters, before storming off into the room where
TransCanada vice-president Louis Bergeron is trying to assuage local
concerns about the proposed pipeline.
Villeneuve smiles and says, "He's been after me for days. I don't know that guy's name but he hates all environmentalists."
Hearings civil, but tense
Friday, Quebec's environmental review agency wrapped up two weeks of
hearings into the Energy East proposal by TransCanada (TSX: TRP).
More hearings are scheduled to begin April 25.
day, Quebecers lined up at the back of the room inside a modern hockey
complex across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City in order to
register to grill Bergeron and officials from the National Energy Board
and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
An Enbridge Energy East shut-off valve is shown above pipeline 9B in Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, Que. (Photo: CP)
hearings were civil but tense as the majority of participants voiced
either outright opposition to the pipeline or high levels of skepticism
about TransCanada's promises to safely transport 1.1 million of barrels
of oil daily through Quebec territory.
of the participants were retired, middle-class parents who started
their own environmental organizations out of their basements.
"The science shows us global warming is real. So when will we stop?"
Irene Dupuis, 65, a retired elementary school teacher, co-founded her environmental group with her sister, Carole.
what circumstances is TransCanada not responsible for spills?" she
asked the commission. "What if its IT system is hacked, what about
said a new federal law coming into effect this summer stipulates
companies like his will be entirely responsible for up to $1 billion in
cleanup costs associated with a spill, regardless of who is at fault.
"What about if a spill costs $1.1 billion?" Dupuis pressed, ignoring the one-question rule.
Dupuis testifies at the Environment hearings on the Energy East
pipeline, Wednesday, March 16, 2016 in Levis Que. (Photo: CP)
TransCanada will still have to pay upfront but can try and recoup the money from those responsible, Bergeron said.
Outside the conference room, Dupuis said TransCanada's promises mean little to her.
day when I drive my grandson to daycare, he asks me about the colour of
the St. Lawrence River," she said. 'Why is it blue today?' he asks me.
'Why is it greyish today?' I don't want him to ask me one day why it's
Denis Desmeules, 59, a retired health-care worker, volunteers for a Quebec City-area environmental group that opposes pipelines.
"[Environmentalists] should arrive here on foot or in electric cars if they are going to criticize oil and pipelines."
"The science shows us global warming is real," he said. "So when will we stop?"
people who work in the industry, they want a salary, they want to pay
for their car, they want to work. Environmentalists threaten their
of those threatened is Morin, who after calming down from his encounter
with Villeneuve, lights a cigarette outside the hockey complex and
discusses his frustrations.
have no problem with environmentalists," says the truck driver. "But
they should arrive here on foot or in electric cars if they are going to
criticize oil and pipelines."
"I am for the pipeline. It moves the economy. It gives us work."
He says Quebecers want expensive services but refuse major projects that can pay for them.
can't have it all," he argues. "Daycares at $7 a day paid for with
money from other provinces. We want parental leave for men. Then we
reject energy projects."
Final approval rests with Trudeau
wants to build a 4,600-kilometre pipeline from Alberta and
Saskatchewan's oil deposits to a marine terminal in New Brunswick.
between, the pipeline is supposed to cross hundreds of kilometres of
Quebec territory, connecting to refineries in Montreal and Quebec City.
"Lac-Megantic wouldn't have happened if that oil was being transported by pipeline."
Final approval rests with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet after a review by the federal National Energy Board.
environmental review board is scheduled to produce a report in
November. While its recommendations are not legally binding, Trudeau
will have a difficult time green-lighting the project if it's rejected
Real Picard, 72, a former worker at Quebec's City's Valero oil refinery, said he's for the pipeline — "with conditions."
said he's worried about corrosion but that what concerns him most is
the threat of another event like the one nearly three years ago that
overshadows much of the discussion on energy projects in Quebec.
recent report says many residents of Lac-Megantic were still suffering
nearly 30 months after an oil-train derailment killed 47 people in July
wouldn't have happened if that oil was being transported by pipeline,"
Picard said. "The pipelines will take some of the trains away."Read More..