Trudeau, Notley, Horgan: The Sunday matinée

Trudeau, Notley, Horgan: The Sunday matinée
Albertas opposition party leaders blast Trudeau, Notley for lack of progress with Horgan on pipeline issue
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is putting taxpayer money where his governments mouth is, promising to deploy both financial and legislative tools to ensure the disputed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion between Alberta and British Columbia is able to proceed.

At the same time, however, Trudeau — speaking after a rare Sunday meeting with the warring premiers from both provinces — concedes there is more his Liberal government is willing to do to protect the B.C. coastline from a possible oil spill.

Video: Canada stands with allies on Syria strikes: Trudeau

Trudeau spoke at the end of a remarkable eight-hour stopover in the national capital, an unscheduled break from his overseas trip to accommodate the last-minute summit with B.C.s John Horgan, who has staked his governments survival on opposing the pipeline, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, whose provinces economic health depends on it.

“The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is of vital strategic interest to Canada, Trudeau said following the two-hour meeting. “It will be built.

While he may have been able to rearrange his itinerary to make it back to Ottawa for Sundays mini-summit with Notley and Horgan, Trudeau isnt about to let the ongoing the tensions pre-empt his plans to spend the next few days making the rounds on the international circuit. On Monday morning he’s set to visit UNESCO headquarters in Paris, followed by a visit with former Canadian governor general Michaëlle Jean, who now serves as secretary general of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

It has been a week since Kinder Morgan announced it was halting all non-essential spending on the plan to build a second, bigger pipeline parallel to the existing one between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. The company gave the Trudeau government until the end of May to reassure its investors the pipeline would be built, despite mounting opposition.

Video: No resolution for Trans Mountain pipeline project

After the meeting, Notley and Trudeau exuded confidence the deadline would be met and the pipeline would proceed. Horgan, however, betrayed no evidence that their confidence had anything to do with him. If anything, the positions of the two NDP premiers appeared all the more entrenched when the meeting was over.

Notley said legislation to allow Alberta to cut oil supplies to B.C., sure to send gas prices there soaring, would be introduced in the legislature this week. Horgan said a court challenge testing whether B.C. has the jurisdiction to regulate what can and cant flow through the expansion will proceed before the end of the month.

Albertas opposition party leaders blast Trudeau, Notley for lack of progress with Horgan on pipeline issue
Albertas opposition party leaders blast Trudeau, Notley for lack of progress with Horgan on pipeline issue

The chasm between them did not go unacknowledged by the prime minister.

Like virtually all such legislative proposals, its an omnibus bill — and yes, the opposition parties wasted no time pointing that out. During the last election campaign, both the prime minister and his party vowed to eschew such parliamentary highhandedness, which they claimed made it effectively impossible for MPs to perform proper due diligence on complex, highly technical legislation.

Trudeau promises money, legislation to remove the uncertainty and make Trans Mountain happen

Justin Tang/Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference to discuss his meeting with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan on the deadlock over Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in Ottawa on April 15, 2018.

“We must recognize that they remain at an impasse, which only the government of Canada has the capacity and the authority to resolve, he said.

First on the witness list is Canadas chief federal privacy watchdog Daniel Therrien, who is slated to share his thoughts and concerns with committee members on Tuesday morning. Later in the session, MPs will hear from self-described data breach hunter Chris Vickery, who will testify via videolink from Santa Clara, California.

Trans Mountain pipeline: Justin Trudeau promising money, legislation to get it built

As such, Trudeau said he has instructed Finance Minister Bill Morneau to sit down with Kinder Morgan to find a financial solution that will soothe their investors. He also promised legislation that would reaffirm Ottawas authority to press ahead with a development deemed to be in Canadas national interest.

(Its worth noting that, while the Liberals consistently rejected that request — including using their majority to squelch motions to extend an invitation to Jean in both the House and at committee — Jean himself eventually wrote to the committee chair with his offer of an unclassified briefing.)

Albertas oil producers encouraged by promises of action on Trans Mountain project

He said the negotiations with Kinder Morgan wouldnt play out in public, and he would not elaborate on exactly what the legislation will say.

Opposition members are going to get their much-lobbied-for opportunity to question the prime ministers national security advisor this week over his possible involvement in a PMO-driven campaign to reroute the media narrative during Trudeaus disastrous trip to India earlier this spring.

Kinder Morgan, for its part, would not say Sunday whether it felt mollified by the days events.

Also high on the list of questions the opposition is likely hoping to ask when the House returns Monday: Just what, if anything, does Canada plan to do in response to the latest volley of airstrikes in Syria, courtesy of a coordinated foray by the United States, France and the UK?

Jason Kenney: “18 months and no shovels in the ground” for Trans Mountain pipeline

“Our objectives are to obtain certainty with respect to the ability to construct through B.C. and for the protection of our shareholders in order to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the company said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Trudeau will deliver a mid-afternoon speech to the National Assembly, as well as meet with French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe before taking off for London, where hes set to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit later this week.

“We do not intend to issue updates or further disclosures on the status of consultations until weve reached a sufficiently definitive agreement on or before May 31 that satisfies our objectives.

Trudeaus promises to make Trans Mountain happen meets with strong opposition
Trudeaus promises to make Trans Mountain happen meets with strong opposition

Trudeau said the pipeline was approved by his government in 2016 after a rejigged environmental assessment and Indigenous consultation process, and only in concert with the Liberals climate change and oceans protection plan. Approval came in consultation with the previous B.C. Liberal government, which gave its consent to the project after its own conditions were met.

But while Trudeau did go further in outlining his governments next steps, he was light on the details, which will likely give his political adversaries more than enough fodder to continue to blame him, and his government, for the current contretemps.

Horgans election last year changed that. His minority government exists at the pleasure of the Green party, and on condition of his continued opposition to the project. Trudeau made it clear Sunday that Horgan and his government are the ones wholly responsible for the impasse.

Canadian Prime Minister Presses For Pipeline

Justin Tang/CANADIAN PRESS B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves after a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on the deadlock over Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 15, 2018.

On the Senate side, the governments plan to roll out legalized pot sales across Canada this summer continues to dominate the committee agenda, with four separate senatorial panels set to continue their respective reviews of the legislation.

Trudeau vows financial backing, legislation to save Trans Mountain pipeline

“I dont think we would be in this situation if the British Columbia government hadnt continued to emphasize its opposition to the project, Trudeau said. “That is why we are at this point right now.

The federal government can and will do more on the pipelines potential environmental impact, he added. But he also accused Horgan of ramping up his rhetoric about environmental uncertainty and gaps in the federal oceans protection plan, without providing details.

On the Commons agenda:  Topping the governments to-do list will be the first phase of Finance Minister Bill Morneaus plan to implement his latest budget, which was introduced just before the House shut down for the Easter recess.

“Unfortunately, over the course of almost a year, they have not specifically put forward proposals on how they would like to see us improve the oceans protection plan, said Trudeau. “Its something we very much are open to doing.

“We have been working at the official level for some time laying out concerns, and I was encouraged that todays meeting will allow us to get back on track in that respect, he said.

A lack of scientific clarity on how diluted bitumen behaves in water, and a lack of political clarity over who is responsible to pay in the event of such a spill, are two of his chief concerns, Horgan added.

Indeed, knowledge is limited when it comes to how diluted bitumen — known colloquially as dilbit — interacts with water, and how best to contain and clean it up. Dilbit spilled into Michigans Kalamazoo River from an Enbridge pipeline in 2010 cost billions to clean up, with parts of the river closed for years afterwards.

Notley, meanwhile, said she felt “a lot better following the meeting — and that once Morneaus talks with Kinder Morgan were complete, the project would proceed.

Trudeau insists BC government has no authority to block Trans Mountain pipeline project

“Im quite confident that should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built — and that is good, because the pipeline is in the national interest, she said.

Justin Tang/CANADIAN PRESS Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks speaks during a press conference to discuss her meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan on the deadlock over Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 15, 2018.

Updated: Trans Mountain will be built, Trudeau says

Before Sundays duelling news conferences were even complete, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was front and centre, accusing Trudeau of sitting on his hands for too long and frittering away investor confidence in Canada as a whole.

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“His damaging policies … have only led to more uncertainty and instability in Canadas resource sector, Scheer said, describing an energy sector that is now convinced that “Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada.

Albertas Opposition leader, Jason Kenney, also said Sundays meeting didnt bring the pipeline any closer to construction. He said government investment in the project would do nothing to solve B.C.s continuing opposition.

Kenney repeated his calls for the prime minister to penalize B.C. by withholding federal dollars for infrastructure and jobs training. He noted Trudeaus father would not have stood for what the Horgan government is doing — despite his reputation as an oilsands opponent.

“I believe that (former) prime minister Pierre Trudeau — who was no great friend of Albertas energy industry — would not have tolerated the … lawlessness and violation of the Constitution that we are seeing right now, the United Conservative Party leader told reporters Sunday.

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