"A genuine sense of optimism": Horgan talks pipeline in Ottawa

Nellie Chapman
April 16, 2018

"My obligation is to the people of B.C., and I will defend that until I am no longer premier", Horgan said Sunday after meeting in Ottawa with the Canadian prime minister and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. But the three were still unable to agree on the method of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the port of Vancouver.

The company, unhappy about moves by the British Columbia government to impede the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) project on environmental grounds, is threatening to walk away unless it receives sufficient clarity about the path ahead by May 31.

Last Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced that it would be suspending all non-essential activities and spending related to the project.

Trudeau declined to discuss the specifics of Ottawa's proposed financial buy-in, saying only that the feds "have engaged in financial discussions with the Kinder Morgan". "It is a project in the national interest", Trudeau said, pointing out that the former B.C. government had initially approved the pipeline expansion.

But Trudeau said the approval process has included "the most extensive consultation with Indigenous communities across this country that we've ever seen" and that his government continues consulting with those groups.

Horgan refuted the notion that Ottawa would punish B.C. financially for opposing the pipeline, saying that there were "no threats, no intimidation" from Trudeau in the closed-door "collegial meeting among peers". "However we remain committed to ensuring our jurisdiction in this regard".

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The move has been the subject of a heated trade battle between B.C. and Alberta since January and has seen almost 200 people arrested for demonstrating at Kinder Morgan work sites in Burnaby.

"There are a number of key Indigenous leaders who are in favour of this pipeline going through".

It set a May 31 deadline to get agreement that the project can proceed, notably on construction through B.C. where opposition runs highest. Neither Horgan nor Notley would comment on those options.

"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.

The prime minister also pledged that new legislation will clearly define the jurisdiction of the federal government over projects that traverse provincial borders.

"I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project", Trudeau told reporters, calling the line "a vital strategic interest to Canada".

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