More Trans Mountain Pipeline drama brought Justin Trudeau home in the middle of his 10-day international diplomatic trip this weekend for a meeting between the premiers of B.C. and Alberta. Kinder Morgan – the company behind the pipeline – halted all “non-essential” work on the expansion project last week due to the resistance from the B.C. government and the uncertainty that meant for their business. Both Alberta and the federal governments are adamant that the project move forward.
“The Trans Mountain expansion is a vital strategic interest to Canada – it will be built,” Trudeau assured after the meeting. He pledged that the federal government will offer “financial and legal backing” to the project to ensure it moves forward. Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for more stability and resolution before it completely pulls out. That doesn’t give the government – under Finance Minister Bill Morneau – much time to figure out exactly what kind of financial backing they can provide.
While Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is in line with Trudeau and fully supports the expansion, B.C. Premier John Horgan was not appeased by the two-hour meeting on Parliament Hill. Speaking afterwards, he said that he would not be backing down on a court filing to override the federal government’s jurisdiction on the project.
“We continue to disagree on the question of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the port of Vancouver,” he said, however, the premier gave the first indication that there is something that might cause him to back down: a ruling against his provincial government by the Supreme Court of Canada.
While the federal government has ruled that the pipeline expansion is to move forward, Horgan has appealed to the highest court in the land to determine if the B.C. government might be able to overturn that decision. It is likely, however, that the SCC will rule in favour of the federal government as the final word on the matter. Before now, there was concern that Horgan would not accept such a ruling and send the province and county into a constitutional crisis of sorts. Horgan said in his Sunday statements that he would stand down if the court ruled against him.
Premier Notley said after the meeting that the Alberta and federal governments are having “significant conversations” about the type of financial security they can offer Kinder Morgan, although neither party has provided any more details on the matter. The Liberals will also be looking to draft legislation that positions them as the ruling authority over the pipeline.