Pierre Poilievre promises to revive a $14 billion Quebec LNG project the province quashed last year

The federal government disapproved of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the province’s Saguenay region that the federal Liberals nixed in February

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GATINEAU – Conservative leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre says that he will revive a natural gas liquefaction project in Quebec that the provincial government quashed last year if he is elected prime minister.

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“We need to get Canadian oil and gas to market, and that starts with inviting projects unfairly blocked by this government to re-apply for approval,” Poilievre said in a statement.

During a press conference in Gatineau, Que., Tuesday, the Conservative MP specifically promised that he would reverse the federal government’s disapproval of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the province’s Saguenay region that the federal Liberals nixed in February.

GNL Quebec’s Énergie Saguenay project promised to build a 780-kilometre natural gas pipeline from northern Ontario to the region north of Quebec City, and then build a transformation plant to liquefy it before loading it onto ships at the city’s port. The project was estimated to cost $14 billion.

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But Ottawa’s disapproval of the project came months after the Quebec government first nixed the project itself seven months earlier, saying it had “more disadvantages than advantages.”

Though the Legault government initially supported Énergie Saguenay, opposition grew increasingly louder and the project’s financiers were increasingly weary all the while the province’s environmental review board analysed the project.

Ultimately, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) decided in a 500-page report that the project’s economic benefits did not outweigh its potential negative environmental and social impacts.

Though the project was already technically dead unless the company presented a new plan that would have to run through the BAPE all over again, the federal Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) released its study on the project months later in which it also quashed the project.

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IAAC’s February report found that the pipeline and transformation plant was likely to cause “significant adverse environmental effects” to both marine mammals as well as on local First Nations communities due to an increase in pollutant greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Énergie Saguenay Project underwent a rigorous review that clearly demonstrates that the negative effects the project would have on the environment are in no way justifiable,” Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a statement at the time.

Poilievre said that if he is elected prime minister, he would reverse the federal government’s decision on the project and then push the Quebec government to do the same.

“As with all projects, the province of Quebec will need to approve permits, but Poilievre would encourage them to do so, given changing geopolitics and the global need for Canadian energy,” reads a statement by his campaign.

Tuesday’s commitment is part of a broader promise by Poilievre’s leadership campaign made one month ago to ban all overseas oil imports within five years of being elected prime minister while also removing government red tape he says hampers the construction of a west-to-east pipeline.

“The GNL project is just one example of projects blocked by gatekeepers. Canada must take back control of its energy,” he said Tuesday.

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