Despite what Justin Trudeau says, his actions show that his real agenda is to enact a no pipeline plan.
It’s not the fight over today’s pipeline, it’s the legislation that will block future ones.
The PM has been out west these last few days. Part of that was picking up cash from a swanky Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver and part of it was trying to assure Canadians he will get the Trans Mountain expansion built.
But will he really do it?
Rules out legislation.
He said on Tuesday that he won’t consider using legislation or the notwithstanding clause, which wouldn’t apply anyway, to get the pipeline built.
“Using a legislative trick might be satisfying in the short term, but it would set up fights and uncertainty for investors over the coming years on any other project, because you can’t have a government keep invoking those sorts of things on every given project,” Trudeau said on Edmonton radio station CHED.
He’s right to a degree, I’ll give him credit. Though I think a full legislative change could fix part of this problem.
As for an appeal, Trudeau is sending mixed messages as Canadian Press reports.
Trudeau downplayed the idea of appealing the decision in the radio interview.
“The court was very clear: You need to do more on the environment. You need to do more on consultations, if anything is going to happen, so that’s what we are going to do,” he said.
But at an event later Wednesday morning Trudeau said an appeal is one of many options under consideration.
“We are looking at what an appeal would look like, what it would mean,” he said.
Pay attention to his plans.
Regardless of what he does on this one though, in the future, we can’t expect much in the way of new pipeline construction all due to a piece of Trudeau legislation.
Back in March I reported on this problem.
The Commons environment committee was studying Bill C-69, a new piece of environmental legislation that would change how environmental assessments are done.
The pipeline industry was blunt in their assessment.
“In fact, it is difficult to imagine that a new major pipeline could be built in Canada under the Impact Assessment Act, much less attract energy investment to Canada,” said Chris Bloomer, president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
The government’s claim is that their new plan will speed up the review and approval’s process. Something Bloomer disputes.
“We cannot see that timelines will improve. We expect them to be longer,” Bloomer told the Commons environment committee.
He also said that rather than make things clearer, the government’s plan would make everything more difficult and less sure.
“Instead, it introduces a new regulatory agency and unique new processes and information requirements that have never been tested. The public participation standing test has been removed,” Bloomer said. “Science and fact-based assessments can now been obscured by the layering of other policy based assessments that are ill-defined, fluid and open to potential strategies of delay and obfuscation of the processes by groups opposed to any project.”
Look at Trudeau’s friends.
This is hardly a surprise, not if you pay attention to who Trudeau surrounds himself with.
Catherine McKenna, the environment minister, is a true believer in shutting down the oil sands. Marlo Raynolds, McKenna’s chief of staff, came out the Pembina Institute and worked for the wind energy industry.
But the biggest clue as to why Trudeau really doesn’t want more pipelines, despite his rhetoric on Trans Mountain, is his principal secretary and best buddy.
Gerry used to head up the Canadian operations of the World Wildlife Fund.
“Truth be told, we don’t believe there ought to be a carbon based energy industry by the middle of this century,” Butts said in 2012.
Asked about changing the route for the controversial pipeline of the day, Northern Gateway, Butts said a new route isn’t the answer.
“The real alternative is not an alternative route, it’s an alternative economy,” Butts said.
So while perhaps the Trans Mountain expansion will happen, though that is far from certain, other oil pipelines will not.
Not with this government.
They killed two major pipelines already.
Even prior to Bill C-69, which the pipeline industry says will stop any future projects, it is important to remember that this government killed two major routes.
Northern Gateway was killed off, despite regulatory approval, when Trudeau declared a ban on tanker traffic off British Columbia’s coast. Of course that hasn’t stopped American tankers from taking Alaskan oil through those same waters to the United States mainland.
He also killed off Energy East by changing the rules in the middle. Suddenly Energy East was told they would have to account for upstream and downstream emissions. That is something Trans Canada has said helped kill the project.
Strangely, a pipeline that would create jobs in Quebec’s Saguenay region and was proposed after Energy East was never subject to those same rules.
Now Bill C-69 will soon pass and become law.
The bill has already passed through the House of Commons and is in the Senate. Expect it to pass before the next election.
Unless the Liberals are defeated and this legislation is repealed we can forget fighting over approving pipelines or trying to get our oil to market.
The industry will simply abandon Canada and go where they can conduct business with sanity and certainty.
Two things Trudeau won’t give them.