PM pledges cash, new law


Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Mia Rab­son THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OT­TAWA

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is putting tax­payer money where his fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s mouth is, promis­ing to de­ploy both fi­nan­cial and leg­isla­tive tools to en­sure the dis­puted Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion be­tween Al­berta and Bri­tish Columbia is able to pro­ceed.

At the same time, how­ever, Trudeau — speak­ing af­ter a rare Sun­day meet­ing with the war­ring pre­miers from both prov­inces — con­cedes that there is more his Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is will­ing to do to pro­tect the B.C. coast­line from a pos­si­ble oil spill.

Trudeau spoke at the end of a re­mark­able eight-hour stopover in the na­tional cap­i­tal, an un­sched­uled break from his over­seas trip to ac­com­mo­date the last-minute sum­mit with B.C.’s John Hor­gan, who has staked his gov­ern­ment’s sur­vival on op­pos­ing the pipe­line, and Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley, whose prov­ince’s eco­nomic health de­pends on it.

“The Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion is of vi­tal strate­gic in­ter­est to Canada,” Trudeau said fol­low­ing the two-hour meet­ing. “It will be built.”

It has been a week since Kinder Mor­gan an­nounced it was halt­ing all non-es­sen­tial spend­ing on the plan to build a sec­ond, big­ger pipe­line par­al­lel to the ex­ist­ing one be­tween Ed­mon­ton and Burn­aby, B.C. The com­pany gave the Trudeau gov­ern­ment un­til the end of May to re­as­sure its in­vestors the pipe­line would be built, de­spite mount­ing op­po­si­tion.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Not­ley and Trudeau ex­uded con­fi­dence the dead­line would be met and the pipe­line would pro­ceed. Hor­gan, how­ever, be­trayed no ev­i­dence that their con­fi­dence had any­thing to do with him. If any­thing, the po­si­tions of the two NDP pre­miers ap­peared all the more en­trenched when the meet­ing was over.

The Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion is of vi­tal strate­gic in­ter­est to Canada. It will be built. – Justin Trudeau –

Not­ley said leg­is­la­tion to al­low Al­berta to cut oil sup­plies to B.C., sure to send gas prices there soar­ing, would be in­tro­duced in the leg­is­la­ture this week. Hor­gan said a court chal­lenge test­ing whether B.C. has the ju­ris­dic­tion to reg­u­late what can and can’t flow through the ex­pan­sion will pro­ceed be­fore the end of the month.

The chasm be­tween them did not go un­ac­knowl­edged by the prime min­is­ter. “We must rec­og­nize that they re­main at an im­passe which only the gov­ern­ment of Canada has the ca­pac­ity and the au­thor­ity to re­solve.”

As such, Trudeau said he has in­structed Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau to sit down with Kinder Mor­gan to find a fi­nan­cial so­lu­tion that will make the ret­i­cence of their in­vestors, and also promised leg­is­la­tion that would reaf­firm Ot­tawa’s au­thor­ity to press ahead with a de­vel­op­ment deemed to be in Canada’s na­tional in­ter­est.

He said the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Kinder Mor­gan wouldn’t play out in pub­lic and would not elab­o­rate on ex­actly what the leg­is­la­tion will say.

Kinder Mor­gan, for its part, would not say Sun­day whether it felt mol­li­fied by the day’s events.

“Our ob­jec­tives are to ob­tain cer­tainty with re­spect to the abil­ity to con­struct through B.C. and for the pro­tec­tion of our share­hold­ers in or­der to build the Trans Moun­tain Ex­pan­sion Pro­ject,” the com­pany said in a statement.

“We do not in­tend to is­sue up­dates or fur­ther dis­clo­sures on the status of con­sul­ta­tions un­til we’ve reached a suf­fi­ciently de­fin­i­tive agree­ment on or be­fore May 31 that sat­is­fies our ob­jec­tives.”

Trudeau said the pipe­line was ap­proved by his gov­ern­ment in 2016 af­ter a re­jigged en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment and Indige­nous con­sul­ta­tion process, and only in con­cert with its cli­mate change and oceans pro­tec­tion plan. Ap­proval came in con­sul­ta­tion with the pre­vi­ous B.C. Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, which gave its con­sent af­ter its con­di­tions were met.

Hor­gan’s elec­tion last year changed that. Hor­gan’s mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment ex­ists at the plea­sure of the Green party, and on con­di­tion of his con­tin­ued op­po­si­tion to the pro­ject — and Trudeau made it clear Sun­day that Hor­gan and his gov­ern­ment are the ones wholly re­spon­si­ble for the im­passe

“I don’t think it’s any sur­prise to any­one that I don’t think we would be in this sit­u­a­tion if the Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment hadn’t con­tin­ued to em­pha­size its op­po­si­tion to the pro­ject,” Trudeau said. “That is why we are at this point right now.”

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