Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says a lack of leadership from the federal government forced Alberta and B.C. into conflict over the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Kinder Morgan has announced it was scaling back the federally-approved $7.4-billion project because of opposition and delays from the B.C. government. The company gave the federal government until May 31 to offer assurance the pipeline expansion will get built.
“There’s a huge sense of urgency on our side for sure … we’ve got about three weeks before we hit that deadline. It should never have come to this,” Scheer said during a lunchtime question-and-answer session at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
“Justin Trudeau’s the one with the department of justice, the department of natural resources, and they should use all the tools at their disposal. They have yet to do anything.”
B.C is asking the province’s court of appeal to see if the province has jurisdiction to implement a new law that would require companies to seek a permit if they want to transport more diluted bitumen through the province.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the government will intervene in the court case to defend federal jurisdiction over provincial pipelines.
Scheer said while he strongly disagrees with how B.C. Premier John Horgan’s government is handling the issue, he said more of the blame rests with Trudeau.
“He has shown a complete lack of leadership and has forced provinces to take matters into their own hands,” he said.
A variety of solutions have been proposed to tackle the deadlock before Kinder Morgan’s deadline. Both the federal and Alberta governments have begun talks with Kinder Morgan to offer financial support to the company in hopes of reassuring investors, a proposal Scheer called “bizarre.”
“We’re about to face this bizarre situation where we have a private company wanting to use shareholders money to build a project that will create jobs and economy activity in Canada and the Liberal response is to say we’re going to have to subsidize you to get to do that,” said Scheer.
Alberta has also unveiled a bill that would limit the exports of gas to B.C., as the province struggles with record high gas prices.
The Conservative leader said it will take more than investment from the government to secure the project.
“The government, prime minister need to be working with Kinder Morgan to provide them with the confidence and assurances that it’s not about the money, it’s not about taxpayers dollars. It’s about a plan. It’s about a timeline they can work with on getting that project built on that timeline,” he said.
“I believe if that was the focus, then the use of government funds wouldn’t be necessary.”
He said he hopes the dispute won’t reach the point of Ottawa having to send in the army to ensure construction can proceed.