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    New push for Energy East pipeline is needed in wake of Trans Mountain decision

    One of the most powerful businessmen in the country says governments have to help businesses remain competitive in global markets, saying a new push for the now-defunct Energy East Pipeline project may be needed.

    In a speech to the Saint John Chamber of Commerce, Jim Irving, the co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving Limited, said it’s time to take another look at the project.

    Irving emphasized the importance of government’s role in establishing and maintaining a competitive environment for all businesses and industry.

    “We have to compete globally with our products, all around the world,” Irving stated. “Competitors from other countries, other jurisdictions might have more favourable legislation, that’s more helpful to industry. We need to be balanced, but we have to be competitive. If we are not we’re all in big trouble.”

    With the federal government putting down $4.5 billion to ensure the Trans Mountain Pipeline gets built, Saint Jon mayor Don Darling, who also attended the luncheon, agreed with Irving that a new push is needed for the Energy East pipeline project.

    “I’m not going to get into the politics of this, but I will tell you, we should not let go on energy east, it’s still the right thing for the country,” Irving said.

    “I think the very same arguments that are being made in BC today,” Darling said. “National interest, jobs, keeping the economy moving ahead, were the exact same points we’re making here on the east coast.”

    Meanwhile, Irving talked about the lack of skilled workers in the province, and suggested part of the $900 million spent on EI in the region annually should be used to re-educate workers.

    He also touched on the challenges related to workers’ compensation rates, which have skyrocketed 50 per cent in the last two years while his companies’ safety record has dropped 23 per cent.

    Irving says his company is looking at hiring another 2,000 people over the next two years.

    AiM Land Services