Please join us at St. Thomas University on Thursday, September 27 at 7 pm for the launch of Pipe Dreams by journalist and award-winning author Jacques Poitras. 

The book is a timely, accessible approach to how Canada's oil pipelines become crucibles for debate about our energy future, Indigenous treaty rights, environmental activism, and east-west political tensions.  Copies of Pipe Dreams will be available for sale and signing by the author.

Pipe Dreams is the story of the rise and fall of the Energy East pipeline. The project was to be a monumental undertaking, beginning near Edmonton, AB, and stretching over four thousand kilometres, across two hundred First Nation reserves, through Montreal to the Irving Oil refineries in Saint John, NB. The crude oil flowing across six provinces would have found a much higher price shipped to world markets than south to the United States. Conceived as a back-up plan for two other pipelines stalled by political opposition, the project became the crucible for Canada's debate over its energy future.

Told as an account of a cross-country journey, the book explores how western Canada alienation, Quebec separatism, Indigenous activism, and climate action combined to question the role of fossil fuels in Canada's economy. The events took place at a time when the government of Canada, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was expressing its commitment to a carbon-reduced economy.

Across the landscape of Pipe Dreams, Poitras talks to oil industry executives, prairie ranchers, First Nations chiefs, small-town mayors, premiers and cabinet ministers, refinery workers, and ordinary Canadians. The book also explores Canada's perplexing relationship with the United States around oil: our oil 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 world markets, it was marketed in explicitly nationalist terms. After decades of rhetoric that Canada was destined to surrender to the north-south reality of continentalism and globalization, the country seemed to be reorienting itself along its east-west axis, tying itself together, again, with a great feat of engineering. To listen to the premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick, it was a journey both new and familiar, akin to John A. Macdonald's national dream of a cross-country railway. Their optimism was palpable. But it didn't--perhaps it couldn't--last. 

By the time the journey ended, the story had become a kind of whodunit: Poitras would witness the slow-motion killing of the fifteen billion dollar project--a series of blows dealt not just to a single pipeline proposal, but to Canada's carbon economy. It was a death that also signaled, perhaps, the birth of something new.

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 DilemmaBeaverbrook: 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.