Deadlock at Pipeline Summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has instructed his finance minister to enter negotiations with Kinder Morgan to remove the uncertainty hanging over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau also says federal legislation is coming that will reassert and reinforce the fact that the federal government is well within its jurisdiction to approve the $7.4 billion project and ensure it goes ahead.

Finally, he says hes willing to expand and improve upon his governments $1.5 billion oceans protection plan in an effort to ensure the most stringent protections are available to reassure British Columbia its coasts are not at risk.

What is amazing to me is that theres so much mythology thats part of the discourse — a lot of it coming from Rachel Notley, but some things are being parroted in the mainstream media analysis about what the various governments can or cannot do, said Lee, who is also co-director of the Climate Justice Project, a research partnership with the University of British Columbias School of Community and Regional Planning.

Hes offering few details, however, saying the negotiations will not take place in public. Despite that, it is the most concrete Trudeau has been yet about how his government intends to solve the impasse that led Kinder Morgan to suspend all non-essential spending on the expansion project pending reassurance from Ottawa the pipeline will be able to go forward.

Day was particularly alarmed by a recent Globe and Mail oped column written by Okanagan Nation Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Mohawk Council of Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. They wrote that if the federal government tries to ram through this pipeline, it could mean going back to one of the darkest times in modern Canadian history: the Oka standoff with the Mohawk Nation.

Ideally, we wouldnt be in this situation right now, Trudeau told a news conference Sunday after a closely watched, last-minute meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who is blocking the project, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who desperately wants to see it go ahead.

Trudeau would not go as far as others to call the pipeline impasse a constitutional crisis but laid all the blame for the situation at Horgans feet. The pipeline was approved in 2016 with the support of the former B.C. Liberal government of Christy Clark. Horgan defeated Clark in an election last year.

I dont think its any surprise to anyone that 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.

This stuff about Alberta blocking oil shipments going to British Columbia is just utter garbage. The province of Alberta is not a shipper on that pipeline, so theres no oil it can hold back. To do so would require all the companies to collude together, which seems completely contrary to the political culture there, much less the business interests at stake.

Although both Horgan and Notley came out of the meeting saying it was collegial and cooperative, neither is coming out of their entrenchments. Horgan said the promised court reference question to verify what jurisdiction, if any, B.C. has over the pipeline and its contents, is coming within days.

In an open letter on Saturday, Jean-Marc Fournier, Quebecs minister responsible for Canadian relations, wrote that the recent assertions of federal representatives regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline, which refer to an exclusive application of federal rules, are detrimental to a proper resolution of this issue and raise concerns for the future.

He said hed hoped to have it done earlier but these questions are complicated and take time to put together right.

Trudeaus promises to make Trans Mountain happen met with strong opposition

Notley said legislation she promised that will allow it to alter flows of oil through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline into B.C. is going to be introduced in the Alberta legislature this week. Analysts suggest that could hike gas prices in the Lower Mainland over $2 per litre and would have an immediate, economy-wide impact on the province.

Beatty said the Trudeau government should introduce a motion in the House of Commons that would seek an affirmation by all members of Parliament that this project is in the national interest, and that the federal government is instructed to take any appropriate measures to ensure that the project moves ahead without further delay.

Trudeau said while his government is committed to working with both premiers to find a solution, we must recognize that they remain at an impasse which only the government of Canada has the capacity and the authority to resolve.

What the government of British Columbia is doing undermines the national interest, divides the country, thwarts the rule of law and severely undercuts our ability to attract sorely needed investment to Canada, he said. The prime minister needs to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that the pipeline goes ahead.

The legislation is expected to reassert, in addition to the Constitution, Ottawas authority over pipelines. This is a bid to try and take the wind out the sails of Horgans court challenge.

Trudeau’s plane touched down in Paris early Monday local time. He was supposed to fly to the French capital directly from Peru—where he attended the Summit of the Americas on Friday and Saturday—before he decided to sit down with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan on Parliament Hill.

Financially the government has options that include assuming some of the investors risk or finding a way to guarantee investor returns on schedule. Trudeau said he is not ready to say Canada is buying the pipeline outright or even putting in an equity stake. He said whatever financial arrangement is reached will include protections for taxpayers.

We engaged in financial discussions with the pipeline owner, Kinder Morgan, he said. This is a series of discussions that are happening in Calgary, Toronto, Houston and New York. They wont happen in public. As soon as we have something to announce I promise you we will let you know.

Horgan said hed received assurances from Trudeau that he would not punish British Columbians over their governments objections, meaning Ottawa isnt going to be withholding federal funds from B.C. in an effort to get the Horgan government on side.

Trudeau said he is also willing to discuss with Horgan additional environmental protections that could give B.C. confidence over its shorelines and marine environments, but accused Horgan of refusing to tell him for nearly a year what gaps Horgan feels exist in the existing or promised protections under the Oceans Protections Plan.

The visit comes only days after France joined Britain and the U.S. in launching airstrikes against the Syrian government for an alleged chemical-weapon attack this month that killed at least 40 people and left hundreds more injured.

Trudeau said recently he would not have approved the pipeline if he wasnt convinced the environment was protected and said he has been consistent for years that he believes the environment and the economy go together and can both be managed for the benefit of all Canadians.

With that highly charged meeting now out of the way, Trudeau will turn his attention to what will be his first official visit to France, where he’ll meet with President Emmanuel Macron and address the National Assembly.

That is exactly what we are doing, he said of the Trans Mountain salvage plan. We are simply demonstrating the resolve to actually deliver on that promise to Canadians.

Trudeau has voiced support for the joint airstrikes. He will have a chance to discuss Syria and Russia, which has emerged as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest backer, when he meets with Macron on Monday.

Trudeau also said all of this is being done with a view to allowing Kinder Morgan to proceed on schedule. Construction on the pipeline expansion itself has yet to begin and needs to start by the end of May if the companys plan to get the oil flowing through it by the end of 2020 is to work.

The PM will highlight the potential benefits of the new Canada-EU trade pact as our government looks to ease its reliance on the U.S. market. Trudeau will also meet with the head of French aerospace giant Airbus

Hence why May 31 is also the deadline the company gave the government to restore investor confidence in the project.

Notley seemed quite happy with the outcome of the meeting and said she is confident the nature of the financial discussions taking place with Kinder Morgan will be enough to overcome investor concerns.

One blue helmet was reported killed, bringing the tally for the peacekeeping mission to 166 since 2013, with more than half of those deaths attributed to what the UN calls “malicious acts.”

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.

Horgans news conference was barely over before Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was at the podium, laying the blame for the impasse squarely at the prime ministers feet.

His damaging policies … have only led to more uncertainty and instability in Canadas resource sector, Scheer said.

The energy sector, Scheer said, is now convinced that Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada.

Trudeaus 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.

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.

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