Trudeau Approves Pipeline Prompting Cheers from Oil Sector, Vows of Protest From First Nations
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement regarding the governments decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government had approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion yesterday, sending cheers through the beleaguered oil sector but warnings of protest from First Nations and environmental groups.
And while Liberals are calling the pipeline approval a compromise — that will create jobs while protecting the environment — many political and indigenous groups think otherwise.
The reaction — both positive and negative — shows just how big an issue the environment will be in the upcoming federal election.
The government, which bought the controversial pipeline last year from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion, is actually re-approving the project after the Supreme Court blocked it because First Nations communities whose land it will cross hadn’t been properly consulted on the expansion.
When completed, the expanded pipeline will allow Alberta oil to flow cheaply to Vancouver, a move which should help kick-start the floundering oil patch. Not only will it create thousands of new jobs but it will create revenue for the government.
Trudeau said any profits from the pipeline will be put towards investing in as yet unnamed clean energy projects.
However, indigenous communities have said they will protest the pipeline expansion, worried about the environmental effect it will have on their communities.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Trudeau’s promise to invest revenue from Trans Mountain pipeline into clean energy projects is a “cynical bait-and-switch that would fool no one.” She said: “If you’re serious about fighting climate change, you invest public funds in renewable energy. You don’t invest them in a bitumen pipeline. And there’s no guarantee that this pipeline will ever turn a profit anyway.”
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who has long been an advocate of pipeline expansion, professed skepticism that the Trudeau Liberals were serious about building.
And NDP leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out the irony that a day after the Liberal government declared a national climate emergency, they approved Trans Mountain expansion — “a project directly threatening our environment.”
Several First Nations groups have promised to protest the pipeline, including the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which said in a statement that they are “ prepared to use all legal tools necessary to ensure that our rights are protected for our future generations.”