Finance minister acknowledges skepticism, vows to build Trans Mountain expansion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is willing to consider selling as much as a 100 per cent stake in the project to Indigenous investors. Part of that is the federal carbon tax, which they announced last week will come into affect in Alberta on January 1, 2020.

Now that we know construction won't likely start before September, he adds demand for fuel is climbing across BC as year over year auto sales go up.

There was swift reaction Tuesday to the decision by the Trudeau Liberals to give the go-ahead to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. Construction is proposed to begin in 2017, with the aim of having oil flow through the expansion by December 2019.

"The pipeline is an incredible opportunity for Indigenous communities within our province to secure ownership in an important asset for Canada, and we are encouraged by the acknowledgement of possible Indigenous ownership", said Iron Coalition co-chair Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.

The government also promised to put all corporate tax revenues, as well as profits earned through the eventual sale of the pipeline, towards clean energy projects.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was approved in 2016.

The project is to replace an aging conduit built in 1953 to deliver 890,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Pacific coast for shipping to new markets in Asia and elsewhere.

Drawing particular attention is Bill C-48, legislation that restricts the movement of oil tankers along the northern B.C. coast.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation said it will appeal Ottawa's decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. A year later, Day said concerns from environmentalists and the B.C. government have been frustrating. The expanded pipeline will also help pay for more renewable energy projects, he said.

And Trudeau said indigenous people would make money from the expansion.

"The people expect us to move forward in ways that both create good jobs for the future and protect our environment for our kids", Trudeau said. A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier that Ottawa expected legal challenges to the approval.

Following the announcement, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer criticized Trudeau for failing to provide a timetable for construction.

The minister pointed out that the Trans Mountain project is one of many the federal government has approved in Canada, including a $40-billion deal for the exportation of liquefied natural gas.

"I don't know what legal challenges there may be", Anderson said, but added the Crown corporation has security plans in place to mitigate potential delays caused by civil disobedience and has a standing court injunction in place preventing disruptions at its sites.

"Trans Mountain is a big win for our agricultural producers of Saskatchewan", Poelzer said. It's the latest in a back-and-forth process that's frustrated the industry and that still does not guarantee anything will actually get built.

The Trudeau government ended up buying the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, Westridge Marine Terminal, and Puget Sound pipeline for $4.5 billion. "But also, killing C-69 and 48 are key parts of that, and they have to get more infrastructure built and we can not have a blockade, essentially, on the B.C. coast, on the north coast, for tankers".

On the other hand, environmental groups expressed disappointment.

And we are committed to fighting this climate emergency and the climate crisis, but we have a government that does not seem to want to be leaders when it comes to fighting the climate emergency.

He insisted Canada can approve pipelines and still battle climate change, drawing a link between the issue of global warming and Western Canada's wildfire problem this spring.

  • Carolyn Briggs