Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, Senator Mockler and I have served on committees together over the years since we’ve been here, and on this issue we agree almost 100 per cent. This is about nation building. Why has this country been successful? There have been bold boosts to build railroads to build a country together, one part of the country supporting the other part of the country when the need arose, contributing to the overall growth of the country.
This is a good example of an opportunity for us to get our product to tidewater and to make sure we get the world market price, not the minimum of $15 discount per barrel. That’s a lot of money when you think that millions and millions of barrels of crude are moving, and we’re leaving at least $15 a barrel on the table and not putting that wealth into Alberta and Saskatchewan, and making that the wealth of the country. The oil patch in Alberta has been driving the economy of this country for a number of years, and when an opportunity came along for us to support them and make that economy grow, we’ve not been there for them.
One thing that Senator Mockler and my leader, Senator Day, forgot to mention is that while I support Energy East going to Saint John, New Brunswick, I didn’t support it stopping in Saint John, New Brunswick. It was certainly important that it get to the largest refinery in Canada and get the product to the Irving refinery, which Senator Mockler and I have toured together.
But it was an opportunity to take that energy even to a safer location on the East Coast, which is the Strait of Canso, at Point Tupper. Many of you might not know this, but there was a large refinery at Point Tupper many years ago. But now at the location of that large refinery are huge storage tanks for crude oil. That’s where the crude oil that comes in arrives in the country — at Point Tupper — and then it is shipped west from there. It’s already there. So if you get the crude to Point Tupper, you’ve already got a place to store it.
You’d say, “But then you have to build a pipeline from Saint John, New Brunswick, from Point Tupper.” You don’t have to worry too much about that. There’s already a gas pipeline going from the gas fields in the Sable Island area that goes down through New Brunswick into the United States where we ship our gas.
So you’ve already got the lines approved; you have all the regulatory business. You do need to build another pipeline, but you’re already on the land, and you’ve already got the arrangements there.
The environmental aspect of this is also extremely important. Irving does have a good record for environmental protection, but there’s also the risk in ending the pipeline at Saint John, New Brunswick, because that’s into the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world come in and out every day.
There was a problem historically with ships colliding with right whales in the Bay of Fundy. The industrious people of Eastern Canada came up with a solution: “We’ll move the shipping lines away from where the whales are.” Logic. So they did; they moved them further east so the shipping lines are closer to Nova Scotia than to New Brunswick, and then they go to Saint John. It has cut down dramatically on collisions. You don’t hear stories about collisions with whales in the Bay of Fundy. They’re now up in the Northumberland Strait area.
One of the reasons I wanted to speak today is that these amendments as proposed —
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Mercer: — by my colleague on behalf of Senator Sinclair — it’s important we take some time to study these amendments. I voted for the adjournment so we would sit down and have a talk about these, and look to see if they have any merit or enough merit for us to amend the bill.
It’s an opportunity here, folks, to keep alive that issue of nation building, using pipelines going west and perhaps reintroducing the idea of pipelines going east. Obviously, I favour going east, as well as the one going west, but the one going west is — I almost said “easier” — but it’s quicker, and there’s already an infrastructure in place. We need to talk about that. If nothing else, we need to give the government the reassurance that we think this is a good idea, that we’re behind them and if all the regulatory things are in place, then we’re going to support that.
I, for one, will be there to do that and to tell the government that, as far as I can do it from my humble seat over here, I’ve got their back on this one.