A timely chronicle of how Canada's oil pipelines have become hotbeds for debate about our energy future, Indigenous rights, environmental activism, and east-west political tensions.
Pipe Dreams is the dramatic story of the rise and fall of the Energy East pipeline and the broader battle over climate and energy in Canada. The project was to be a monumental undertaking, beginning near Edmonton, AB, and stretching over four thousand kilometres, through Montreal to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, NB. Conceived as a back-up plan for the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, it became the crucible for a national debate over the future of oil.
In a cross-country journey, Poitras talked to industry executives, prairie ranchers, First Nations chiefs, mayors, premiers, cabinet ministers, and refinery workers. He also explored Canada's perplexing oil relationship with the United States: our industry is literally tied to its American counterpart with sinews of steel. The Energy East pipeline represented a new direction, designed to get Alberta oil sands crude to lucrative world markets. Yet it was promoted in explicitly nationalist terms: the country was said to be reorienting itself along its east-west axis, tying itself together, again, with a great feat of engineering.
By the time the journey ended, the story had become a kind of whodunit: Poitras witnessed the slow-motion killing of the fifteen billion dollar project. Unfolding in tandem with clashes over the Trans Mountain pipeline, Energy East's demise heralded a potential turning point not just for a single proposal, but for Canada's carbon economy.
Entertaining, informative, and insightful, Pipe Dreams offers a clear picture of the complicated political, environmental, and economic issues that Canadians face.
JACQUES POITRAS has been the provincial affairs reporter for CBC News in New Brunswick since 2000. He is the author of The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma; Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, which was a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction; and Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border, which was a finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. His fourth book, Irving vs. Irving, was shortlisted for the National Business Book Award and won the Atlantic Independent Booksellers' Choice Award for 2015.