The Canadian government has flashed its chequebook in the hopes of keeping the Trans Mountain Pipeline afloat, but it may not be enough to keep Kinder Morgan onboard.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stated that the federal government would be willing to compensate investors for any financial loss they may suffer due to interference from BC Premier John Horgan.
“We’re prepared … to indemnify the project against any financial loss that derives from Premier Horgan’s attempts to delay or obstruct the project,” Morneau said on Wednesday.
“This indemnification would allow Kinder Morgan to finish what they started, what they received federal and BC approval to do.”
Kinder Morgan responds
Even that financial backing may not be enough to keep Kinder Morgan on the project, however, as a release from Kinder Morgan Canada Limited’s CEO Steve Kean stated “appreciation” for the offer, but that the company was sticking firmly to the conditions that were outlined when the May 31 deadline was set.
“We acknowledge the comments by Minister Morneau this morning and appreciate his acknowledgment of the uncertainty created by the BC Government’s stated intentions to ‘do whatever it takes to stop the Trans Mountain Expansion Project’ and the ‘exceptional political risk’ this federally and provincially-approved project continues to face,” Kean said in the release, which was sent out just hours after Morneau’s statement.
“We remain steadfast in our previously stated principles: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through British Columbia, and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders.”
Morneau laying blame squarely on Horgan
Morneau pointed blame firmly at Horgan’s NDP government during his statement, calling the opposition from BC “deliberate attempts to frustrate the project,” and that Horgan’s intentions to stop construction of the pipeline are “unconstitutional in its very purpose.”
“These are challenges that, frankly, put the livelihood of thousands of Canadians, and their families, at risk.”
Horgan made it clear he doesn’t see his government’s actions as unconstitutional in the slightest, as seen in the statement from the premier that was released shortly after Morneau’s announcement.
“We are standing up for British Columbia’s environment, economy, and our coast against the threat of a bitumen spill, and we are doing so entirely within our rights,” Horgan said in the Wednesday statement.
“The federal finance minister is trying to use our government as an excuse, as the federal government puts taxpayer money on the line to backstop risks to private investors, while completely ignoring the risks to BC.
“The fact is, we’ve been issuing permits in a fair and timely manner, and have proposed new regulations that are now referred to court to confirm our jurisdiction.
“We are acting well within BC’s rights to defend our environment, and the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity that depend on it.”
Trudeau faces criticism in Calgary
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Calgary on Tuesday to make an announcement regarding the City’s Green Line Light Rail Transit system, but was met with questions about the future of the pipeline, and if he had anything new to say (he had answered a previous question about the pipeline by stating that it was in the national interest and that it would be built) that could reassure his critics in the city.
“I don’t think there’s any magic phrase I can say that will have critics and skeptics sort of put down their criticism and say ‘oh, you know what? The prime minister reassured me today,’” he said at the Tuesday press conference.
“So I’m not speaking to them. I’m speaking to the rest of Albertans who have watched for 10 years under the Conservative government where there was a tremendous amount of boosterism for Alberta, there was an oil sector-first mentality that didn’t actually deliver a single kilometre of pipeline to market.”
Trudeau went on to state that the key to getting the pipeline built was to choose both the environment and the economy, noting the pushback he has received from both premiers on Alberta’s borders.
“There are premiers to the east of us, directly, that do not like the price on carbon, there are premiers to the west that aren’t crazy about the pipeline, but I say to all of them, ‘this goes together.’”
Alberta together against BC
Both Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, and Alberta’s premier, Rachel Notley, have expressed their disdain for Horgan’s opposition to the pipeline project, with Nenshi most recently calling Horgan “one of the worst politicians that we’ve seen in Canada in decades,” during an interview with CBC.
“Horgan knows that he’s not going to win in court, he knows that he’s not going to win the plight of public opinion, he’s hoping to scare away the investors,” Nenshi said.
“If the federal and provincial governments have to backstop that in order to not scare away the investors, then that has to happen.”
Notley has been at odds with Horgan since late January, when the BC government announced its plans to introduce legislation that, if successfully passed, would give it the power to restrict the amount of bitumen that flows to the province’s shores — essentially halting the Trans Mountain Pipeline in its tracks.
Notley’s government has since put pressure on BC by instituting a boycott of BC wine, introducing legislation that could drive up the price of gas in the province, and, most recently, by posting pro-pipeline billboards and advertisements in BC.
“It is important that Canadians understand what’s at stake when we talk about the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said in a release regarding the $1.29 million ad campaign.
“A lack of market access is costing Canadians good jobs. It is putting the national climate plan at risk. And it is costing Canada billions every year – money that could be paying for things like roads, schools, and hospitals from coast to coast to coast.”
The ads are expected to run “until the pipeline is in operation.”