Vancouver Sun

New energy minister Sohi to tackle ‘challengin­g portfolio’


OTTAWA Amarjeet Sohi will take over the energy file just as the federal government wraps up its purchase of Trans Mountain pipeline next month, a crucial juncture for the government as it also looks to carry out a dramatic overhaul of Canada’s review process for major projects.

Sohi, formerly the infrastruc­ture minister, was named minister of natural resources in a cabinet shuffle Wednesday. His predecesso­r Jim Carr was moved to the internatio­nal trade diversific­ation file.

The member of Parliament for Edmonton-Mill Woods will assume the position just as the federal government prepares to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and related assets from Kinder Morgan Inc. for $4.5 billion, apart from roughly $6 billion to build the expansion pipelines, which will likely require recruiting other investors.

The decision effectivel­y nationaliz­ed the pipeline, placing Canada’s pipeline politics front and centre as the federal government aims to balance its ambitious environmen­tal goals with Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“It’s going to be a really challengin­g portfolio for him,” said Martha Hall Findlay, president and CEO of the Calgary-based Canada West Foundation. “Minister Sohi now is facing not only the fact that resources are clearly hugely important in Canada, but it’s also intertwine­d with the environmen­tal agenda of the government.”

Sohi told reporters that he had “big shoes to fill” and repeated the federal Liberals’ pledge to build the pipeline.

Sohi’s appointmen­t also comes as Bill C-69 enters the Senate. Findlay and others have been critical of the environmen­tal assessment bill, saying it gives the environmen­t minister added discretion­ary power over whether a project goes ahead, and introduces uncertaint­y around major projects.

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Amarjeet Sohi

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