Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians we could eat his climate action cake and have the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion too, approving the twinning of the TMX bitumen corridor from Edmonton to Vancouver.
“We don’t see these goals as irreconcilable, we see them as complimentary,” Trudeau announced at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa. This a day after Parliament declared a climate emergency due to hydrocarbon energy consumption.
Trudeau promised “to have shovels in the ground this construction season” and that “every dollar Canada earns from this project will be invested in our clean energy transition…up to $500 million a year.”
The prime minister said he was open to negotiating “an equity stake or revenue sharing” agreements with Indigenous groups and that “there was no limit on Indigenous participation.”
“It could be 100 percent (equity),” he said.
Forty-three First Nations and other Indigenous groups currently back Trans Mountain, while only a dozen joined the Tsleil-Waututh’s Federal Court of Appeal challenge over insufficient consultation in the National Energy Board’s decision to twin the pipeline.
Before the challenge, the Houston-based energy giant boasted $400 million in ‘Mutual Benefit Agreements’ (MBAs) with First Nations who are onside.
After the Tsliel-Waututh federal court undertaking began at the beginning of last year, the Liberal government announced it would buy the entire stake from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion last May.
On August 30, 2018, the federal court quashed NEB’s approval, the same day 99 percent of the Houston Texas firm’s shareholders voted to sell its Trans Mountain interests to Canada.
And now Canada is looking for a buyer. Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Leah Wilson told CTV News before Trudeau’s announcement her group is not interested “and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect our (territory).”
However three Indigenous groups have made serious overtures for an ownership stake; the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group of First Nation’s on the 1150 kilometre right of way, the Alberta Iron Coalition and Project Reconciliation, a third consortium Indigenous business interests.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer put his press release out hours before what many considered a done-deal heading into next federal election.
“Today’s cabinet decision gets us no closer to having this vital, job-creating protect than we were when it was first approved two and a half years ago,” said Scheer.
During Trudeau’s opening remarks, he reiterated that Canada’s primary customer of 99 percent of Alberta’s oil remained the United States.
“It doesn’t make any sense to sell our resources at a discount,” he said. “We basically have only one customer for our resources, the United States…we can only make choices when we have choices.”