Newly elected Liberal MP Peter Schiefke on Vaudreuil-Soulanges environmental concerns
YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Newly elected Liberal candidate Peter Schiefke (right) said he understands environmental concerns raised by Vaudreuil-Soulanges residents over the Enbridge 9b pipeline and TransCanada Energy East projects.
During the recent federal election campaign, the environment was an important component of newly elected Liberal Peter Schiefke’s platform. Your Local Journal took a few moments to talk with Schiefke about his plan to defend our environmental interests in Ottawa.
How important a role do you think your stance on the environment played in your election?
I wanted everyone in the riding to know it’s something I’m very passionate about, that it was my background and something I would focus on. It resonated well with people. It was great to see so many people were concerned about climate change and the lack of action on the federal level. Some people were concerned about pipelines and the way we transport our national resources, and the fact that there was a serious decline in oversight. It was reassuring that people cared, and the number of people was growing day by day.
What do you say to people who are afraid they’ll have to pay an extra few cents per liter at the pump as a carbon tax?
Mr. Trudeau has no plan of increasing any carbon tax. That is basically being left to the provinces. Instead, he will put in place a fund to help provinces meet their goals.
The price of gas will go up and down. The only thing that the federal government can do is make sure that people are less dependant on it. I’m extremely excited that we are announcing an investment of $20 billion in public transit to help provinces and municipalities put more buses on the roads and trains on the tracks.
If we get people to use public transportation more, making it more accessible, we can reduce a quarter of the emissions being produced.
What about reinstating federal subsidies for purchasing an electrical vehicle?
It’s not currently in the plan, but it’s something I would like to see brought back. Given how effective it was [in the past], I would like to put a strong argument forward to make it happen.
Is there anything that can be done at this point to ensure that additional testing is done on Enbridge’s line 9b pipeline reversal project?
When the Enbridge pipeline was approved, the first thing that I did was look into whether or not this was something that could be changed to ensure that the demands that were put forth could be met. Unfortunately, there is now a binding agreement between the federal government and Enbridge. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality. It’s a reflection of the way that the previous government conducted business.
The one thing I’m really looking forward to is completely revamping the legislation in place and making sure that the public once again trusts the process.
What can the new government do as Energy East goes forward to make sure this project is managed differently?
There is a lot of room for us to make sure we put in place measures that will significantly increase the oversight process. We can definitely make sure that if it does move forward, it moves forward after a rigorous environmental assessment with peer-reviewed scientific testing, rigorous discussions with community groups and municipalities. This is something that on a personal level I will be very involved with.
Then there is no chance of TransCanada applying pressure to move forward now, under the current lax legislation?
I think Mr. Trudeau is very clear that we can’t approve the pipeline as it stands right now. He was very clear from the beginning. So I am looking forward to putting in place the necessary resources to do an environmental assessment of Energy East that will gain the trust of the public, one that provides a report that shows that due diligence was done, that we had scientific testing done, that we spoke to community groups, that the decisions was done in a way that was open and honest with the Canadians and communities affected by that proposal.