OTTAWA – A federal investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline is one of the possibilities the Liberal government is considering to help get the controversial project completed, says Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her province is prepared to invest in the pipeline directly if it would help keep investors on board – a notion her opposition rival, UCP Leader Jason Kenney, says he would support as long as Ottawa also puts money on the table.
Opposition from British Columbia, including a threat to pass regulations that would prevent additional oil flows through the province, spooked Trans Mountain investors enough that Kinder Morgan called a halt Sunday to all non-essential spending on the project.
The company would be open to government investment if it brought certainty to the project, CEO Steve Kean said Monday.
Carr isn’t saying that a federal investment is a certainty, only that it is among the options on the table, along with legal and regulatory manoeuvres.
“We’re looking at all available options,” Carr said, without getting into specifics.
The federal government has jurisdiction over pipelines that cross provincial borders. Trans Mountain runs between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., and the expansion, approved by Ottawa in November 2016, would triple its capacity.
Conservative MP Chris Warkentin says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau missed a huge opportunity to save the project last week when he failed to meet with British Columbia Premier John Horgan.
Trudeau’s trip to B.C. last Thursday included a stop at the Canadian Coast Guard offices, where he discussed the balance needed between environmental protection and natural resource development as pipeline protesters looked on.
Although the event was not far from the B.C. legislature, no meeting with Horgan was planned – something Warkentin says should have been a priority.
It appears scheduling was the culprit. Horgan was in Kamloops, B.C. on Thursday for a construction announcement at Thompson Rivers University.
Warkentin says Trudeau should immediately demand a meeting with Horgan if he is really serious about getting the pipeline built.
Trudeau was also criticized last summer when his first meeting with Horgan following the B.C. premier’s June election purposely did not focus on the pipeline, which Horgan has vowed to do everything he can to stop.
B.C. says it is going to ask the courts to decide if it has jurisdiction to regulate against increased oil flows through pipelines. Alberta and the federal government insist it does not. Horgan says he will frame a question to the court to decide the issue.
Canada considered asking the Supreme Court for a jurisdictional ruling earlier this year but opted not to because it would have implied there was doubt about jurisdiction, when federal officials say there is none.
A reference also would have taken at least a year, possibly two, with the project hanging in the balance in the interim.