Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to pile pressure on British Columbia’s provincial government to drop its resistance to a pipeline project, but will try to avoid tougher measures that might alienate voters who helped his Liberals win power, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Trudeau is racing against time. Kinder Morgan Canada said it would scrap the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the west coast unless all legal and jurisdictional challenges facing the project are resolved by May 31.
The pipeline, which Canada’s oil industry considers crucial, is opposed by British Columbia’s left-leaning New Democratic provincial government. Environmentalists and aboriginal activists are mounting frequent protests and RCMP have arrested about 200 people around Trans Mountain facilities since mid-March.
Ottawa insists it has jurisdiction over the project and Trudeau is under huge pressure to crack down. For now, he will press the provincial government, pointing to polls showing most Canadians want the expansion to go ahead.
“We need to take actions that are focused on the government of British Columbia,” said the source, who requested anonymity by Reuters given the sensitivity of the situation. Trudeau will hold more talks with the province as well as Kinder Morgan Canada, the source added.
Trudeau must be careful because British Columbia voters and environmentalists gave him strong support that helped bring him to power in 2015, and a crackdown could cost him support in both camps ahead of a federal election set for October 2019.
Although Ottawa says it is exploring all regulatory, legal and financial alternatives, the source told Reuters “there aren’t an awful lot of options for the prime minister.”
Notley prepared to limit B.C. oil supply
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government has convinced her that “something specific” will be announced in the near future to try to break the impasse over the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Notley made the comments after a meeting in Toronto with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. According to Canadian Press, she says she will let Morneau discuss and outline what those specific actions will be.
Notley says the line is critical to getting more oil to the coast and fetching better prices to boost the Canadian economy, and is introducing a bill next week to give her the power to limit oil to B.C., saying it will involve imposing new conditions on export licences.
“It would, as a result, allow us to direct the export of the product in a way that allows us to get the best price for the product and meets other generalized objectives,” Notley said Wednesday on a conference call from Toronto in a Canadian Press article. “That could include a number of things both restricting what goes in certain directions as well as suggesting certain mechanisms for it to be transported.”