Canada's PM Trudeau pledges money, new law for pipeline project

The reaction ranged from business as usual to outrage on both sides of the Kinder Morgan controversy following Sunday's meeting in Ottawa between Premiers John Horgan and Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He has insisted that the pipeline falls under federal purview and that British Columbia has no right to block it.

He's offering few details, however, saying the negotiations will not take place in public.

Trudeau emerged from a meeting with the Alberta and B.C. premiers Sunday to tell reporters that the federal government is set to provide substantial financial backing to Texas-based Kinder Morgan in order that the pipeline, planned to stretch from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, B.C., will be constructed.

"I wanted to be able to sit down with the premier of British Columbia and the premier of Alberta together and discuss issues of the national interest and demonstrate the federal government's commitment to getting this project built". Horgan defeated Clark in an election a year ago.

"It doesn't get us any further to certainty", he said, and the options of appealing to the Supreme Court or buying into the project should be the last resort.

Horgan referred to the meeting as "cordial" though acknowledged his disagreements with Trudeau and Notley over a number of issues.

After the meeting, Horgan said he couldn't find common ground when it came to environmental impacts of the pipeline. This is a bid to try and take the wind out the sails of Horgan's court challenge.

Parliament has that authority under Section 92 of the Constitution Act, which allows it to declare "works", such as a pipeline that crosses provincial borders, "to be for the general advantage of Canada", he said. He said whatever financial arrangement is reached will include protections for taxpayers. "This is a series of discussions that are happening in Calgary, Toronto, Houston and NY".

"In principle, I don't believe it's the role of government to run a pipeline", said Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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 almost a year what gaps Horgan feels exist in the existing or promised protections under the Oceans Protections Plan.

To which Greenpeace responded: "This pipeline isn't going anywhere".

"That is exactly what we are doing", he said of the Trans Mountain salvage plan.

This week, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde also said First Nations are being "left out" of the Kinder Morgan discussion.

The company gave the Trudeau government until the end of May to reassure its investors the pipeline would be built, despite mounting opposition.

"The federal government, along with the government of Alberta, has commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that will eliminate investor risk", Notley said.

"We didn't get clarity, we got more obfuscation and another sign this country is broken", he said.

I am quite confident that should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built.

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.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the Americas Business Summit in Lima, Peru April 13, 2018.

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. "And that is good because the project is in the national interest", Notley said.

The last-minute meeting was called as Trudeau left for Peru on Thursday to attend the Summit of the Americas, which was overshadowed by Syria and where USA officials suggested a new North American free trade deal could be only weeks away.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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