Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted a foreign trip to try to resolve a fierce spat between two western provinces Photo: AFP/File
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Trudeau in financial talks to resolve heated pipeline dispute

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By Ernesto BENAVIDES

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday his government is holding "financial discussions" and weighing legislation to help resolve a high-stakes clash between two Canadian provinces over a major pipeline project.

The dispute in Canada's west has oil-rich Alberta boycotting trade with British Columbia over its environment-based opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The spat has raised fears of a constitutional crisis, and Trudeau's own political future may be at stake. He interrupted a trip to Peru, France and Britain on Sunday to return to Ottawa to mediate the spat.

The project -- which would triple the pipeline's capacity to carry Alberta's oil sands to port in Vancouver -- is fiercely opposed by British Columbia's government, ecologists and indigenous groups who warn of a possible environmental disaster in the event of a leak.

Trudeau's Liberal government in 2016 approved the expansion project, aimed at helping landlocked Alberta ship its oil sands to the Pacific coast and then to overseas markets.

"I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with (Texas energy company) Kinder Morgan ... to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion," Trudeau said Sunday.

Kinder Morgan recently suspended its pipeline work amid the intense political uncertainty, saying it would drop the project if the parties fail to resolve their differences by May 31.

"We are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert, plus reinforce, the government of Canada's jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have," Trudeau said.

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

Trudeau needs the support of British Columbia voters to win a second term next year. But the hit to the economy if the pipeline isn't built could also have devastating effects at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Trudeau needs Alberta aboard to meet his international climate commitments.

Trudeau emphasized that the project represented a "vital strategic interest" for Canada and insisted, "It will be built."

He made his comments in a news conference following an urgent meeting with premier Rachel Notley of Alberta and her British Columbian counterpart, John Horgan.

Horgan gave no sign of relenting. "My responsibility is to defend our coasts and to defend the interests of British Columbians, and I'll do that until I'm no longer the premier," he said.

Notley seemed equally determined. She said her government had begun "significant conversations with Kinder Morgan around the financial arrangements that will make sure that it gets done."

© 2018 AFP

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

2 Comments
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Are Canadian PM's required to release info on their financial holdings?

I respect most of what Trudeau's doing and want to believe he's transparent and forthright with regard to any connections he might have with Kinder-Morgan, or any other oil-gas business for that matter.

Though Trump hasn't released much about his financial holdings, some sources have shown his connections to Kinder-Morgan, among others in the oil-gas business:

https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/in-case-you-were-wondering-donald-trump-has-multiple-ties-to-the-dakota-access-pipeline/

Is the US under Trump putting pressure on Trudeau to help Kinder-Morgan?

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I'm afraid we have too many activists and lobbyists on both sides. Quoting a bit here from the Mayor of Fort St. John - she put out an informative and common sense open letter:

"Canada has some of the largest petroleum resources in the world and yet Canada imports 634,000 barrels of crude oil from foreign countries every single day.

That is $26 billion of oil imports every year that we could have supplied to ourselves.

That product arrives in tankers and is transported to where it needs to go by truck and train right through our communities. And yet we don’t want our own product to flow in pipelines to our communities for our own use or to our ports so we can export it? That just makes no sense at all to me.

So let’s talk about pipelines. I know pipelines are a safe, cost-efficient means of oil and natural gas transportation and emit fewer greenhouse gases than alternate transportation methods.

Canada has 830,000 kilometers of pipelines. Three million barrels of crude oil is transported safely every single day. B.C. has over 43,000 kilometers of pipelines. If we took that oil out of the pipelines, we would need 4,200 rail cars to move it. How many of those cars would you like rolling through your community?"

Full text available here: http://www.jwnenergy.com/article/2016/12/mayor-fort-st-john-wrote-letter-about-pipelines-citizens-british-columbia/

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