Ex­pan­sion of Trans­moun­tain pipe­line ‘pri­or­ity’ for gov­ern­ment, Trudeau says

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - D.C. FRASER

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ended his brief trip to Regina on Fri­day much the way he spent the start of the trip a night ear­lier — re­spond­ing to ques­tions about the need for more pipe­lines and a car­bon tax.

There have been sev­eral large protests around the Prairies in oil-pro­duc­ing areas over a lack of pipe­line ac­cess, prompt­ing Trudeau to tell re­porters he “un­der­stands con­cerns” from peo­ple over the “soft” price of oil and the re­sult­ing dif­fer­en­tial price.

Ev­ery U.S. dollar in­crease or de­crease in the West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate (WTI) oil price amounts to a $16-mil­lion dif­fer­ence in Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment rev­enues.

The higher the dif­fer­en­tial be­tween WTI and West­ern Cana­dian Se­lect ( WCS) — the stan­dard used when look­ing at Cana­dian-pro­duced oil — the more money the gov­ern­ment stands to lose. Re­cently, the dif­fer­en­tial has hov­ered around US$32.50 a bar­rel.

If the dif­fer­ence were to stay that large over a full year, Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials es­ti­mate it would cost he prov­ince $300 mil­lion to $350 mil­lion in roy­al­ties and cost the in­dus­try be­tween ap­prox­i­mately $4.4 bil­lion and $5.3 bil­lion.

This is one rea­son why peo­ple are protest­ing: They want pipe­lines built, so Saskatchewan and Cana­dian pro­duced oil can be sold some­where other than the United States.

Trudeau echoed those con­cerns Fri­day, say­ing, “We are pris­on­ers of the United States mar­ket for our oil re­sources in the oil­sands, we do not have ac­cess to mar­kets other than the United States, and that is why mov­ing for­ward in the right way, the Trans­moun­tain ex­pan­sion is a pri­or­ity for this gov­ern­ment.”

He added this is why the fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­cided to pur­chase the Trans­moun­tain pipe­line for $4.5 bil­lion.

“That is the fo­cus we have, be­cause we know get­ting our re­sources to mar­kets has been a long-stand­ing re­quest and need of the oil in­dus­try in the oil­sands,” he said.

The prime min­is­ter then at­tacked the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s record of get­ting pipe­lines built, say­ing they ig­nored the Indige­nous con­sul­ta­tion re­quired to do so.

“They failed, that’s not the way to get re­sources built,” he said. “Any­one who thinks you can snap your fin­gers and build a pipe­line doesn’t un­der­stand that’s not the way we do things in Canada any­more.”

He noted how when the rail­road was built “no­body checked” to see if First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties ap­proved.

The Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal quashed the National En­ergy Board ap­proval of Trans­moun­tain, cit­ing im­proper con­sul­ta­tion with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and a lack of re­view of the ma­rine ship­ping issue. The decision laid out some spe­cific things Canada and the NEB have to do if they want to get the pipe­line ap­proved again.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe did not meet with Trudeau dur­ing the visit; both claimed sched­ul­ing con­flicts as the rea­son why.

But Trudeau did re­spond to ques­tions about his gov­ern­ment im­pos­ing a car­bon tax on the prov­ince and Moe’s con­tin­ued opposition to it, which has cul­mi­nated in a court chal­lenge to be heard next month over the issue.

Trudeau said, “There is too much pol­lu­tion in our at­mos­phere be­cause for too long pol­lu­tion has been free. By putting a price on pol­lu­tion, we will get less of it” be­cause busi­nesses and peo­ple will choose al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy.


Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau talk about fresh wa­ter man­age­ment dur­ing a round­table in Regina on Fri­day. Trudeau wrapped up a brief visit to the city later in the day.


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