Morneau's pledge to backstop pipeline expansion draws criticism

By The Canadian Press
May 16, 2018 - 4:00pm

OTTAWA — The federal government is prepared to backstop investors to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, even if Kinder Morgan, the project's original sponsor, wants to back out, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday.

His comments sparked reaction from across the political spectrum. A selection of quotes:

"Nothing the finance minister said today will ensure that the Trans Mountain expansion actually gets built. The Liberals still don't have a concrete plan of action to remove delays. Their own policies continue to drive energy investment out of Canada at historic levels." Shannon Stubbs, Conservative MP and natural resources critic.

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"For a Toronto-based finance minister to single out British Columbia as a problem here, he should look at the failure of Energy East, he should look at the failure of Keystone and a whole host of other projects." British Columbia Premier John Horgan.

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"We will do whatever is necessary to ensure construction on the pipeline resumes this summer, as scheduled." Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

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"The Liberals promised change but we keep getting more of the same: Harper-style politics. Now it's a blank cheque to a Houston-based pipeline company. A spectacular violation of a key plank of the Liberals' 2015 campaign platform. Whatever happened to ending subsidies to fossil fuels?" Green party Leader Elizabeth May.

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"We remain steadfast in our previously stated principles: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through British Columbia, and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders. While discussions are ongoing, we are not yet in alignment and will not negotiate in public." Steve Kean, chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada.

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"The risks facing this project go far beyond the B.C. government and Kinder Morgan knows it. Those risks include legal challenges from First Nations, environmental groups and municipal governments, potential legislation in the U.S., along with growing on-the-ground opposition from land and water protectors willing to face arrest to stop this project — from Vancouver to Seattle to Quebec, and beyond. This project isn't moving forward. The federal government should cut their losses, not double down on them." Mike Hudema, Greenpeace Canada.

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 "Let's be clear, today's announcement was a pledge to write a blank cheque, backed by public money, to a Texas oil company in a desperate play to bailout a pipeline that violates Justin Trudeau's own promises on climate change and Indigenous rights. It's desperate, dangerous and delusional." Aurore Fauret, tarsands campaign co-ordinator with 350.org.

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"This is a desperate attempt by the Trudeau government to use taxpayer money to bail out a collapsing project. It's fiscally irresponsible and ignores the growing protests to the project and the federal government's own promises on Indigenous reconciliation." Tzeporah Berman, Stand.earth.

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"Government guarantees to Kinder Morgan shareholders are at odds with the commitment to reduce fossil fuel subsidies and promises to fix the energy project review process. It also adds weight to recent revelations that the decision to approve the project was made before a full analysis of possible impacts was completed." Tim Gray, Environmental Defence.

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"This morning's desperate 'announcement' once again demonstrates the disconnect between the reality of Indigenous title and rights and the federal government's approach to Kinder Morgan. The world is listening and while Morneau reiterated his government's support for Kinder Morgan, the purpose of the press conference — to update Canadians on the progress of talks with Kinder Morgan — was lacking in specifics. Canada cannot indemnify against the risks of not respecting Indigenous title and rights." Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

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"The strength of the language from the federal government is refreshing and necessary. This is clearly federal jurisdiction and the project has federal support." Sandip Lalli, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber.

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The Canadian Press

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