Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government has a “political responsibility” to help move Europe off Russian energy dependence.

Freeland, speaking to reporters in Saint John, New Brunswick, said the federal government needs to step up to support its allies in the face of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. 

The comments are the strongest yet from a Canadian official on supporting the construction of new export infrastructure along Canada’s east coast to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas.

“I think it is a political responsibility for us as a country to support our allies with energy security,” Freeland told reporters, adding that Canada is lucky to have abundant energy supplies.

European countries are going through a “tough moment” right now as they transition away from Russian oil and gas, Freeland said, adding she discussed LNG projects directly with her German “counterparts.”

“I think that it’s very important for Canada to step up and to say, we’re going to help you, we’re going to help replace that energy,” Freeland said. “So yes, I think there is a role for the federal government, working with provincial governments, working with the private sector, working with our European allies to make this happen.”

Freeland was asked specifically about a Saint John facility owned by Spanish energy firm Repsol SA, which has said it is studying the possibility of building liquefaction capacity at the site. Freeland said she is “very familiar” with the Repsol project, but also with other proposals to build new LNG terminals and that “this is not the moment to pick specific projects.”

The Repsol project is widely considered the most likely to be operational quickly because it builds onto existing infrastructure.

Freeland told reporters she will be meeting with energy industry leaders on her current trip through Atlantic Canada.