Cloud lingers over Trans Mountain Pipeline

Hon. Kevin Sorenson, M.P., (Battle River-Crowfoot)
Parliamentary Report

“The sun will be beating down on the Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby this summer, but there will be few signs of sunny ways.” Those are the words of National Post reporter John Ivison as he summed up his article on the Federal government’s purchase of Trans Mountain. Mr. Ivison’s characterisation is reflective of many Canadians’ sentiments including my feelings on the latest development in this saga.

I, my Conservative colleagues, Albertans and many Canadians, are relieved that the Federal Government has finally taken some action to ensure the survival of this nationally significant project. For far too long there has been much uncertainty whether this pipeline would ever be completed. The Liberal government removed some of that uncertainty on May 29th when it announced the purchase of Trans Mountain for $4.5 billion. This does not however mean that there will be smooth waters or sunny ways going forward as Ivison outlines.

First, Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for $4.5 billion and an estimated $7 billion more as a direct result of the Prime Minister’s failure to act sooner. Kinder Morgan never asked for one dollar of taxpayer’s money. All the company wanted was certainty and that is why they gave the Government until May 31st to provide some assurances. Kinder Morgan’s assets have now been sold. They are abandoning their expansion plans in Canada and taking their significant investment in this country elsewhere.

They are doing so at a time when we can ill afford it as business investment in Canada has fallen by 5% or $12.7 billion since 2015. During this same period, business investment in the US increased by 9%. Foreign direct investment plummeted by 42% in 2016 and then a further 27% in 2017.

Second, there are many environmentalists who remain opposed to the pipeline and are vowing to keep up their protests that could thwart efforts to complete the pipeline. They feel betrayed by a Prime Minister who promised them he could and would effectively balance economic realities with environmental sensitives. While I strongly believe environmental concerns with the pipeline have been addressed, I can appreciate their view of duplicity on the part of Prime Minister Trudeau.

Third, that sense of betrayal extends amongst many Indigenous people who believed Trudeau when he campaigned on the promise of positive politics and inclusiveness. A member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver is quoted in the Ottawa Citizen as saying “This is the moment in history where Justin Trudeau has revealed that he never cared about Indigenous rights or reconciliation.” While this view is not universal, many do believe this is yet again another broken promise.

Lastly, New Brunswickers are having a hard time understanding why the Government considers Trans Mountain to be in the national interest while they were responsible for the demise of Energy East. The Mayor of Saint John’ s valid arguments regarding the importance of Energy East to both his province’s and the Canadian economy did nothing to convince the Liberal government.

I sincerely wish that these many clouds would clear in the coming weeks so we may celebrate the completion of Trans Mountain. Unfortunately, I remain very skeptical about sunny days ahead.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.c1@parl.gc.ca.