Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Minister, it’s good to have you here. I know you visited my home province of New Brunswick not long ago.
Hon. Jim Carr, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources: I did.
Senator Day: We happened to be on the same plane, so I appreciate you travelling in that direction as well.
The biggest story in the media at the present time is one that deals with your department directly. The Energy East Pipeline project would have created jobs in New Brunswick and would have been good environmentally as well as good for the economy in both New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.
TransCanada recently announced that it’s terminating the Energy East project, after the National Energy Board amended the criteria for its assessment by greatly expanding the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions. Your mandate, minister, states that you have an overarching goal “to ensure that our resource sector remains a source of jobs, prosperity and opportunity.” New Brunswickers are now being denied the opportunity and the benefit of the Energy East project.
I would like to point out, minister — and you have already done so, but I’d like to remind honourable senators — that the Trans Mountain expansion project and Line 3 Replacement Program between Alberta and Manitoba faced different, less rigorous assessment than the Energy East project with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. The National Energy Board announced an expanded focus while the application was in process.
Minister, could you help us understand why Energy East did not get the same treatment with respect to National Energy Board assessment as the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 Replacement Program? You mentioned that both of those projects were successful; however, Energy East was withdrawn when the assessment project by the National Energy Board was changed in-process. Can you help us with that?
Some Hon. Senators: Good question.
Mr. Carr: Senator, as you know, the National Energy Board is independent of government. I don’t think you would want it otherwise. You wouldn’t want the Government of Canada instructing a quasi-judicial body about how it is going to do its business. If I were in this chamber after having made that decision, I expect that the noise level would be a lot higher than it is right now. So that’s number one: They’re an independent, quasi-judicial body.
Number two, they have the authority to determine within their own mandate the scope of their inquiry. The scope of their inquiry that they decided to put in place after hearing from many hundreds or thousands of Canadians was to include an assessment of downstream GHG emissions, which were outside the principles that the Government of Canada had tabled in January 2016 when Minister McKenna and I announced them to a press conference and to Canadians. Those principles would have been the ones applied to the Energy East application had it gone through the regulatory process. We made that perfectly clear to the proponent, to the regulator and to everybody else.