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Alberta needs to play the long game in pipeline politics

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Alberta may have lost the policy battle over the Energy East pipeline, but there’s one more battle to fight: the huge jurisdictional overreach by the National Energy Board’s addition of upstream emissions to the review of TransCanada pipeline’s application.

Changing the rules in the middle of the game was the straw that broke the camel’s back for TransCanada. Publicly, Team Trudeau attributed the company’s decision to “market conditions,” and denied any responsibility. But secretly, they celebrated.

Energy East was unpopular in Quebec, and the Liberals did not want to have to defend it in the next federal election. Cancellation removes the pipeline issue, which all but guarantees the Liberals re-electing their 23 Quebec MPs. With only 13 seats over the minimum required for a majority government, this is one of the Liberals’ highest priorities.

But the Liberals’ denials didn’t fool many people. During the 2015 federal election, Trudeau catered to the anti-pipeline vote by promising to add upstream and downstream emissions to the approval process.

This idea did not originate with the NEB. As Donald Savoie, former president of the Canadian Political Science Association and currently the Canada Research Chair at the University of Moncton, pointed out in the Globe and Mail:

“Politics, not market conditions, killed the Energy East pipeline. If government and regulatory agencies drag........

© Calgary Herald