Trudeau in talks to resolve heated pipeline dispute
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday his government is holding “financial discussions” and weighing legislation to help resolve a high-stakes clash between two Canadian provinces over a major pipeline project. The dispute in Canada’s west has oil-rich Alberta boycotting trade with British Columbia over its environmentbased opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline. The spat has raised fears of a constitutional crisis, and Trudeau’s own political future may be at stake. He interrupted a trip to Peru, France and Britain on Sunday to return to Ottawa to mediate the spat. The project - which would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry Alberta’s oil sands to port in Vancouver - is fiercely opposed by British Columbia’s government, ecologists and indigenous groups who warn of a possible environmental disaster in the event of a leak. Trudeau’s Liberal government in 2016 approved the expansion project, aimed at helping landlocked Alberta ship its oil sands to the Pacific coast and then to overseas markets.
“I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan ... to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” Trudeau said Sunday. Kinder Morgan (a Texas energy company) recently suspended its pipeline work amid the intense political uncertainty, saying it would drop the project if the parties fail to resolve their differences by May 31. Trudeau needs the support of British Columbia voters to win a second term next year. But the hit to the economy if the pipeline isn’t built could also have devastating effects at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Trudeau needs Alberta on board to meet his international climate commitments.