TransCanada tries to curry favour with locals via Energy East video endorsements

Local politicians pledge their support for proposed pipeline. But will it work?

I apologize for the lack of activity at Ore & Oil lately. Home renovations got the best of me.

Anyhow, I spied an interesting story on the CBC New Brunswick website this morning. TransCanada Corp. is enlisting local politicians – including Premier Brian Gallant – to voice their support for the proposed pipeline in video endorsements.

It’s an attempt to show New Brunswick residents that “real” people in their province are bullish about the proposed pipeline.

As some of you might remember, Calgary-based TransCanada filed a project application with the National Energy Board for the $12 billion, 4,600-kilometre long pipeline on Oct. 30.

The pipeline will ship 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec as well as to Irving Oil’s refinery in Saint john. TransCanada and Irving Oil have also formed a joint venture to build, own and operate a new terminal in Saint John.

But big pipeline projects encounter big opposition these days. And that’s already happening in New Brunswick.

TransCanada knows it needs to get its message out about the jobs and economic prosperity the pipeline will bring to New Brunswick to win the public relations war that’s going to be waged during the NEB review. These video endorsements are one tactic the company is using to win that war.

Except I don’t think the videos will do much good.

Granted, anything TransCanada is going to do to show public support for the project will be viewed skeptically. But video endorsements featuring premiers and mayors supporting Energy East will be viewed more skeptically than most.

What could potentially be more effective is if TransCanada had video endorsements featuring New Brunswick residents you wouldn’t expect to have a vested interest in the Energy East pipeline.

How about a retired couple living a few kilometres away the proposed right of way? Or a family doctor? Or an outdoors enthusiast? Or an environmentalist?

Maybe those people aren’t willing to endorse Energy East. But if they do exist, TransCanada should beat the bushes to find them.

They’d serve as better PR ambassadors for the project than politicians.


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