Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday his government is holding "financial discussions" and weighing legislation to help resolve a high-stakes clash between two Canadian provinces over a major pipeline project. He made his comments in a news conference following an urgent meeting with premier Rachel Notley of Alberta and her British Columbian counterpart, John Horgan.
"I'm quite confident that should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built - and that is good, because the pipeline is in the national interest". "It will be built". They have yet to lay out a plan on how they will make that happen, over the opposition of B.C. residents, its government and some Indigenous Peoples along the proposed routing of the pipeline.
After almost a decade since the last major oil pipeline was built, and with existing ones brimming with crude, Canada's energy industry is wondering when and if any new lifelines to foreign markets will go into the ground.
However, B.C. won't drop its federal court challenge of the pipeline expansion, with Horgan telling reporters that a court challenge was the logical way to deal with jurisdictional conflicts. "We don't believe that's the Canada that most Canadians want to live in".
The prime minister announced he has instructed his finance minister to begin talks with Kinder Morgan to "remove the uncertainty" hanging over the project, which would almost triple the flow of oil from Alberta to the Pacific Coast.
Kinder Morgan, for its part, would not say Sunday whether it felt mollified by the day's events.
The leader of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has also vowed that the project will not proceed.
"We do not intend to issue updates or further disclosures on the status of consultations until we've reached a sufficiently definitive agreement on or before May 31 that satisfies our objectives".
Trudeau said his government is also "actively pursuing legislative options" to move ahead with construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
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Trudeau's announcement didn't sit well with the Union of B.C. Chiefs.
"There are some difficulties obviously, on the regulatory front, but Keystone XL has largely cleared its last major regulatory hurdle at the end of a year ago", he said.
"He has a minority government that's being propped up by a Green Party that is continually lobbying against him and using this as a tool to beat him up with".
"We continue to disagree on the question of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver", Horgan said following the meeting.
"Ideally, we wouldn't be in this situation right now", Trudeau said.
The federal government can and will do more on the pipeline's potential environmental impact, he added. "Today, the Prime Minister put forward a plan of action and those actions will be very important".
"We have been working at the official level for some time laying out concerns, and I was encouraged that today's meeting will allow us to get back on track in that respect", he said. Analysts have suggested a federal equity position in the company would do little to placate investor concerns, and Kinder Morgan was neutral on the notion of financial backing.
"We are still waiting on judgements from the Federal Court of Appeal and from the B.C. Superior court which could have the effect of quashing or cancelling approvals that have already been granted" she said.
Kenney repeated his calls for the prime minister to penalize B.C.by withholding federal dollars for infrastructure and jobs training.