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File photo of Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada.

TODD KOROL/REUTERS

TransCanada Corp. and global public relations firm Edelman have severed ties after efforts to build support for the company's Energy East pipeline were criticized as overly aggressive.

Edelman said Wednesday it and TransCanada had "mutually agreed" not to extend the PR firm's contract beyond December.

A strategy developed by Edelman obtained by Greenpeace advised TransCanada to respond quickly to unfavourable media coverage and attacks on the project, and to work with third parties to "put the pressure on, particularly when TransCanada can't." Greenpeace characterized the tactics as "aggressive" and "dirty tricks."

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In a statement, Edelman said it stood by its strategy. "Unfortunately, the conversation about our efforts has become so loud in certain areas that it is impossible to have an open and honest conversation about the pipeline project," the firm said.

The move to part ways comes with Energy East caught in an escalating battle between provinces. Ontario and Quebec want the $12-billion pipeline's contribution to climate change measured as a condition of approval. Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall this week accused his provincial counterparts of erecting "new barriers" for the project.

Energy East, if approved, would ship up to 1.1 million barrels a day of Western oil to export points in Quebec and New Brunswick.

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