Journalist and author Jacques Poitras launched his fifth book Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future on Sept. 27 at St. Thomas University.
The book shares the experiences and voices of small town residents, insiders, Indigenous peoples and others whose lives have been affected by the birth and death of the Energy East pipeline project.
“It’s an attempt by me to look at the larger political and environmental story behind the fight over the pipeline,” said Poitras in an interview with The Aquinian.
The launch drew in approximately 30 professors and students eager to gain insight into Poitras’ journey across Canada.
In September 2016, Poitras started in Hardisty, Alta. and ended in Thunder Bay, Ont.
In May 2017, he travelled from North Bay, Ont. to New Brunswick.
“I went to Alberta and started in a little town where the pipeline itself would have began, and followed the route back to New Brunswick, interviewing people along the way. I was trying to get a picture of how divided the country was about oil, climate policy and the environment,” he said.
Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future took Poitras more than two years to complete.
During the launch, Poitras shared some of the personalities and perspectives of people he had met while travelling, one being the chief of Carry the Kettle Nakota First Nation in Saskatchewan.
“Chief Elsie Jack was great [to talk to], because she has this very real family connection to the history underlying some of these issues,” he said.
Another person Poitras met was Neil Brock, a rancher in the great sand hills in Saskatchewan. He had gas lines running under his ranch.
“The sand hills are a really ecologically fragile area , there’s only a few inches of sand, and then there’s grass, and aquifer, and not a lot of water. So the farmers who ranch in this area are very attuned to the environment, and the need to manage the land very carefully,” said Poitras.
“Someone who is supporting the pipeline is not necessarily unaware of the environment and how to balance all these different factors.”
Poitras has been the provincial affairs reporter for CBC News for 18 years. He already has four books under his belt, but wanted his fifth to tackle a topic of national interest.
“There were a lot of things going on at the same time- related to pipelines and climate policy, and it seemed like a good time to find a way to tell that story,” he told The Aquinian.
“So a pipeline that ran — almost across the country, through six provinces — all places with different perspectives on it seemed like a good way to explore the issues.”