Energy East NEB hearings suspended after motions calling for members to resign

A demonstrator is taken away after disrupting the National Energy Board public hearing into the proposed Energy East pipeline in Montreal on Monday. Photo by Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL, Q.C. – The National Energy Board announced today that all future hearings into TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project will be suspended until the board rules on motions demanding two of three panel members resign.

The board received the motions after a news report revealed that the two members met with ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest, who was at the time a paid lobbyist for TransCanada.

In a statement, the board said that “Given that the board has invited written comments by Sept. 7, 2016 on these motions, the board will not proceed with further panel sessions until it reaches a decision.”

Yesterday, protesters stormed a conference room in Montreal just minutes before the public hearings were scheduled to take place, forcing the NEB to cancel the day’s events. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre walked out of the hearings after anti-pipeline protesters began screaming and chanting.

Coderre, who has come out against the pipeline, suggested strongly the NEB review process had the perception of bias in light of the reports panel members had met with Charest.

Today’s statement added that the hearings scheduled for today were also cancelled “as a result of a violent disruption on the first day of proceedings and ongoing security concerns.”

TransCanada said Tuesday that it “will wait for the NEB to provide guidance on how it plans to proceed.”

The firm said that prior to Montreal’s scheduled hearings, it participated in five panel sessions in New Brunswick that were “productive and respectful.”

The company said it will “look forward to continuing to be able to listen to people’s questions and concerns regarding Energy East and to address them.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to engage with municipalities, land owners, indigenous communities, and others in order to listen to questions and issues that are raised about the project, and to address them,” TransCanada said.

The company has proposed a $15.7-billion pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to New Brunswick.