Quebec biz group CEO hopeful on eastern pipelines, but public must be on side

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CALGARY - The head of a Quebec business group says he's hopeful the public will support proposals to ship Alberta crude east, but that industry and government need to do a better job in assuring that such projects are safe.

Michel LeBlanc, CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, cited the recent debate over shale gas extraction in the province, saying energy firms and government officials failed in attempt to address public concerns over the technology.

LeBlanc says he hopes it will be different when it comes to with two pipeline proposals to carry western crude to eastern markets through Quebec, which he says will help boost the province's petrochemical sector.

Meanwhile, Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor Energy — the massive oilsands producer that has a refinery in Montreal — says the eastern pipelines will help protect jobs in what has been a "tough" sector in recent years.

Williams says there are a number of investments Suncor could make in Montreal — such as adding a coker to handle heavy oilsands crude — that could create more jobs.

LeBlanc and Williams were speaking at an Alberta Enterprise Group luncheon focused on strengthening the Alberta-Quebec business relationship.

Organizations: Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Suncor Energy, Alberta Enterprise Group Alberta-Quebec

Geographic location: Quebec, CALGARY, Alberta Montreal

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