Trudeau government faces pressure to step into dispute
Just because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is refusing to wade publicly into the emerging pipeline-induced trade war between British Columbia and Alberta, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening out of the public eye, his environment minister suggested Wednesday.
Speaking in French after the weekly government caucus meeting, Catherine McKenna said things sometimes happen behind closed doors and that solutions are often more easily found without drama. Maybe so — but when it comes to the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute, the no-drama ship has officially sailed.
B.C. dropped the gloves last week when it floated the idea of a regulation to restrict expanded flows of oil through the province without a guarantee spills can be cleaned up — a measure that would effectively halt, if not kill outright, the plan approved by Ottawa in 2016 to triple existing pipeline capacity between Alberta and B.C.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley responded by threatening legal action, cancelling talks to buy electricity from B.C. and then by banning imports of B.C. wine.
Politically, Notley needs the pipeline built to have any hope of re-election next year; B.C. Premier John Horgan campaigned on a promise to kill it off. His minority government’s tenuous grip on power depends on keeping the Green party happy — which means Horgan can’t back down.
Pressure is mounting on Trudeau to step into the dispute.
Trudeau’s positive words of support for the Trans Mountain pipeline are all well and good, but at some point he will have to do more, said Kinder Morgan CEO Ian Anderson.