The big pipe­line predica­ment: how far will Trudeau go to get it built

Sherbrooke Record - - EDITORIAL -

When Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau sits down in Ot­tawa this morn­ing with the pre­miers of Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta it will be the first time the three big­gest po­lit­i­cal play­ers in the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line predica­ment are in the same room at the same time.

There may be at­tempts to fig­ure out if B.C. Pre­mier John Hor­gan has a price for with­draw­ing his op­po­si­tion but the real ques­tion to­day is whether Trudeau and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment are ready to say how far they will go to get the pipe­line built.

The gov­ern­ment is look­ing at sev­eral dif­fer­ent op­tions to min­i­mize the risk to the pipe­line's in­vestors which could in­clude in­sur­ing the re­turn on in­vest­ment, buy­ing a stake in the project or putting up cash to cover cost over­runs that re­sult from con­struc­tion de­lays.

What he can do to over­come the po­lit­i­cal risk may take a lot more than one meet­ing with two pre­miers.

The Lib­er­als seem con­vinced only a small num­ber of their 18 B.C. seats are at risk over ap­prov­ing a pipe­line but on Satur­day Que­bec's min­is­ter for Cana­dian re­la­tions warned Trudeau it would be a mis­take for Ot­tawa to ram through the project with no re­gard for pro­vin­cial rules.

The Lib­er­als have 40 seats in Que­bec, and hope to grow that num­ber in the next elec­tion but polls sug­gest out­side of B.C. op­po­si­tion to the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line is high­est in Que­bec, a prov­ince where many vot­ers are very wary of a fed­eral gov­ern­ment over­step­ping into pro­vin­cial au­ton­omy.

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