OTTAWA – BC Premier John Horgan says his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley did nothing to end his ongoing efforts to block plans to expand an existing diluted bitumen line between the two provinces.
Horgan, Notley and Trudeau met today on Parliament Hill in hopes of finding a solution to the impasse between the two provinces, which is threatening to kill the expansion project.
Horgan says Trudeau laid out “legislative and financial measures” to push the project forward, but he did not elaborate. He did note, however, that Trudeau made no threats and made it clear he had no intention of punishing BC residents.
Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr also took part in today’s meeting.
Horgan’s opposition to Trans Mountain — rooted in part in the fact his tenuous NDP government depends on the support of the Green party, which staunchly opposes the project — is the main reason Kinder Morgan put the brakes on non-essential spending on the project a week ago.
Trudeau insists the Kinder Morgan pipeline is within federal jurisdiction and that Horgan’s government has no authority to block it — a claim Horgan wants the courts to evaluate, and one with which he says he plans to press ahead.
Horgan’s news conference was barely over before Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was at the podium, laying the blame for the impasse squarely at the prime minister’s feet.
“His damaging policies … have only led to more uncertainty and instability in Canada’s resource sector,” Scheer said.
The energy sector, Scheer said, is now convinced that “Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada.”
Trudeau’s cabinet approved the pipeline in 2016, following an interim environmental review process that included assessing things such as the emissions that will be created from producing additional fossil fuels that will flow through it. The cabinet decided the project, which will build a new pipeline that runs parallel to an existing one but can carry twice as much, was in the national interest.
Trudeau has argued repeatedly his government has put in place the environmental protections and policies needed to reduce the risks of an oil spill, and that building the pipeline to get Canadian resources to market is necessary for the Canadian economy.
Alberta, federal government to ‘eliminate’ Trans Mountain risk: Notley
Notley says Alberta will buy an equity stake in the pipeline, or even buy the whole thing if necessary.
She says her province and the federal government have agreed on a plan to eliminate investor risk surrounding the expansion project.
As a result, Notley says, the pipeline “will be built,” although she refused to provide details.
“I don’t believe that it is in the best interest of the country to engage in esoteric, jurisdictional debates for the purposes of harassing a project to death, which in effect I think is what’s been happening up to this point,” she adds.
Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, has given Trudeau until the end of May to find a solution that would provide their investors a measure of confidence that the project would be allowed to proceed.
Notley says she’s confident that deadline can be met.
‘We are going to get the pipeline built’: Trudeau
The meeting, convened at the last minute Thursday as Trudeau was departing for the Summit of the Americas in Peru, marked the first time the three leaders have all been in the same room together to hash out the dispute.
The prime minister says he has instructed his Minister of Finance to engage in conversations with Kinder Morgan to eliminate financial risks and ensure the project moves forward.
“I have also informed Premiers Notley and Horgan, today, that we are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert plus reinforce the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have.”
Trudeau offered few details, saying talks will not take place in public.
“We have approved this pipeline, it is in the national interest. We very much want to see this pipeline get built.”
He says the pipeline will create thousands of jobs, not just in Alberta but also in BC.
“This is a project that we have determined is in the national interest, and will move forward,” he adds. “I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I don’t think we would be in this current situation if the British Columbia government hadn’t continued to emphasize it’s opposition to the project. That is why we’re at this point right now.”