Mulcair Pegs NDP Support for Canada Pipelines to New Assessments

The opposition New Democratic Party doesn’t support any of Canada’s four major pipeline proposals, though Thomas Mulcair said he may approve two of them after overhauling environmental review rules.

The NDP leader spoke in Toronto Friday, the morning after the first debate of the election campaign. His left-leaning party has never formed government nationally but polls show it is the biggest threat to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s incumbent Conservatives.

During the debate, Mulcair sidestepped questions about specifics of his policy on pipelines. On Friday, he was asked by reporters whether he supports TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL and Energy East projects, Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Energy Inc’s Trans Mountain expansion.

Mulcair said he opposes Keystone and Northern Gateway, saying on the latter it’s “madness” to have large tankers cruising the northern coast of British Columbia.

The NDP leader said he doesn’t support Trans Mountain or Energy East as currently formulated, but attributed his position to a flawed environmental process.

“For the other ones, they can’t even be studied, and that’s the problem,” Mulcair said. “But of course, when you look at the notion of bringing product from west to east -- it could get you a better price, it could create jobs in Canada, it can get rid of the tankers that are right now on the St. Lawrence.”

Environmental Assessments

An overhaul of pipeline assessments under the Conservative government -- known as the “one project, one review” rule -- means the reviews cannot be trusted, Mulcair said.

“You can’t get to yes, you can’t approve any of these projects right now because under Stephen Harper there’s no clear, credible, thorough environmental assessment,” he said.

Harper, speaking at Thursday’s debate, attacked Mulcair’s energy policy. “That’s the record of the NDP: they’re always for projects until they actually face one and then they’re against it,” he said.

Mulcair reiterated his support for “value added jobs,” suggesting he’d favor projects that included upgrading raw bitumen from the country’s oil sands into crude oil before exporting it.

Canadians head to the polls Oct. 19. Harper called the election Sunday, triggering what will be the country’s longest campaign since 1872.

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