With chants of “Build that Pipe” in the background, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his government’s commitment to getting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, as a critical deadline looms for its company, Kinder Morgan.
Speaking at a funding announcement in Calgary, Trudeau reiterated how Trans Mountain is in Canada’s national interest and took specific aim at British Columbia’s attempts to thwart it.
“It’s a question of a province actually challenging the federal government’s right and responsibility to get things done that are in the national interest, so I can tell you my government is doing and will continue to do everything necessary to defend federal jurisdiction and mostly, to get this pipeline built,” he said.
Kinder Morgan has set a deadline of May 31 to decide whether it will continue, based on its assurance that B.C.’s court challenges and other measures won’t be successful in stopping it from going ahead.
But while Trudeau was firm in his government’s push, he didn’t answer more pointed questions, such as if there’s any discussion that the May 31 deadline may be extended.
“There are all sorts of conversations going on, but as always, I won’t be negotiating in public,” he said.
He was also asked if he was meeting with Kinder Morgan executives during this trip to Alberta, ahead of a company shareholder meeting, but deferred to others in government.
“I am very confident that all of our officials and our finance minister and the folks involved in direct discussions with Kinder Morgan are extremely engaged with all necessary parties,” he said.
Trudeau’s statements come a week after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her government would be launching a media campaign mostly in the Lower Mainland, and that her government would soon vote on Bill 12.
That piece of legislation would give Alberta the power to restrict oil and gas shipments to B.C.
Trudeau has faced heavy criticism from his environmental base who have been upset with his decision to approve the pipeline but has also been slammed by Conservative politicians at both the federal and provincial levels that he hasn’t done enough.
The prime minister says they’re a hopeless bunch.
“I don’t think there is anything that I can say that would reassure some of my critics who have such little faith in my government getting anything done for Alberta,” he said, referencing infrastructure investments and increasing EI payments during the economic downturn. “I don’t think there’s anything, any magic phrase that will have critics and skeptics put down their criticism.
“I’m not speaking to them, I’m speaking to the rest of Albertans.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Notley and Trudeau have done a lot.
“I want to see shovels in the ground, but every time someone says to me ‘they need to be doing more,’ I always say ‘what exactly?'” he said. “Is throwing Elizabeth May in jail enough for you?
“We’ve heard unequivocal language from both the premier and the prime minister saying, this thing’s going to get built, there’s no waffling on that.”