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Canada Chantal Hébert: Trudeau lacks means for a quick end to the Alberta-B.C. pipeline feud

00:21  09 february  2018
00:21  09 february  2018 Source:   metronews.ca

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shake hands during a meeting on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 in Ottawa.: Chantal Hébert: Trudeau lacks means for a quick end to the Alberta-B.C. pipeline feud© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang Chantal Hébert: Trudeau lacks means for a quick end to the Alberta-B.C. pipeline feud

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

In the escalating feud between Alberta and B.C. over the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is — for now — a referee without a whistle.

Much as he might want to call an end to the hostilities between the NDP governments of the two provinces, he lacks the means to enforce a quick timeout between them.

'That pipeline is going to get built': Trudeau reaffirms support for Trans Mountain project

  'That pipeline is going to get built': Trudeau reaffirms support for Trans Mountain project Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday morning that the Trans Mountain pipeline is in the national interest and that the federal government will make sure the expanded pipeline to West Coast gets built. Trudeau made the comments in radio interviews on CBC’s Edmonton AM and 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen show ahead of his visit to Edmonton Thursday. The stop comes just two days after British Columbia’s provincial government made moves to stall the $7.4-billion project and restrict bitumen shipments.

That could change over time. But things may have to get worse before Trudeau has a shot, if not at making them better, at least at forcing a resolution of the issue.

By now, the federal government has used all the back channels at its disposal to try to mediate the dispute between Edmonton and Victoria.

Sticks and carrots have been hinted at. In a B.C. interview last week, Trudeau linked his government’s $1.5 billion coastal protection plan to the building of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

He tried to make a case that the federal-provincial consensus to put a floor price on carbon would not be sustainable, absent some positive developments for Alberta’s energy industry.

But for federal mediation to work, at least one of the two feuding NDP premiers would have to have a political incentive to meet the other part way.

'That pipeline is going to get built:' Trudeau

  'That pipeline is going to get built:' Trudeau EDMONTON - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion will happen despite British Columbia's latest attempt to hinder the project. Speaking on Edmonton talk radio station CHED, Trudeau says the pipeline, which would take Alberta crude to the West Coast for shipment to Asian markets, is in the national interest and will go ahead. B.C.'s environment minister has said his minority government plans to ban increased shipments of diluted bitumen off its coast until it can determine that shippers are prepared and able to properly clean up a spill.The move has infuriated Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who has accused B.C.

As it happens, neither side has much room to give up ground to the other. Ever since the advent of a Green-supported minority NDP government in B.C., the two provinces have been on track for a head-on collision over pipelines. The alternative for either of them was a potential derailment.

This is a war Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has to win. She cannot afford to see the Trans Mountain project abandoned, especially as a result of the actions of a fellow NDP premier. She also needs to be seen to be pulling no punches on behalf of her province.

The survival of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s minority government is conditional on the continued support of the Green Party. He was elected on the promise of using every means at his government’s disposal to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline from being expanded. With an eye to turning his governing minority into a majority, he needs to be seen to be doing just that.

As pipeline battle heats up, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley calls on PM to show 'greater' leadership

  As pipeline battle heats up, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley calls on PM to show 'greater' leadership Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday he must do more to stop B.C. from blocking the Kinder-Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday he must do more to stop B.C. from blocking the Kinder-Morgan Tra .Notley said Trudeau's statements on CBC Radio Edmonton AM earlier in the day — in which he described the dispute as an inter-provincial matter — were not strong enough.

On that score, his suggestion that his government could restrict the amount of bitumen transiting by rail or pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast is the nuclear weapon in the arsenal. Whether he would be totally unhappy to be prevented from using it as the result of a legal intervention from the federal government is another story.

But for now, B.C.’s threat to close its borders in whole or in part to Alberta’s bitumen is only a proposal. And that means that for all of the inches upon inches of virtual column ink expended on calling for so-called federal leadership, Trudeau can hardly take a province to court for usurping Ottawa’s constitutional powers over what remains a statement of intent.

That will change if B.C.’s intentions are translated into actual regulations. Until that happens, there is nothing concrete for the federal government to take to court.

The Alberta-B.C. feud is politically messy for Trudeau, but it could have been worse.

Were the country’s two NDP premiers not on opposite sides of the pipeline issue, Trudeau would likely face a heavy barrage of New Democrat attacks in the House of Commons. (Mind you, if Notley were not a key ally of his government, the prime minister might be less willing to expend political capital on the Trans Mountain pipeline.)

'The gloves are off,' says Rachel Notely on pipeline while Justin Trudeau takes heat at B.C. town hall

  'The gloves are off,' says Rachel Notely on pipeline while Justin Trudeau takes heat at B.C. town hall 'The gloves are off,' says Rachel Notely on pipeline while Justin Trudeau takes heat at B.C. town hall Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained his support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Friday during a heated town hall in British Columbia, reiterating his stance that the project is in Canada’s national interest.

In any event, a divided NDP house on pipelines stands to blunt the New Democrats’ capacity to score points off the Liberals’ support for the Trans Mountain pipeline in the next election.

And then had TransCanada not abandoned its bid to link the oilsands to the refineries of the east coast via the Energy East pipeline, Trudeau would be looking at a similarly ugly battle on the Central Canada battlefield.

That would have meant he’d have to articulate a response to the conflict between Edmonton and Victoria that took into account the necessity of regional symmetry.

To be clear, Trudeau could not have done anything to resolve the Alberta-B.C. feud in a manner that reflects his commitment to see the Trans Mountain project succeed that he would not have been willing or able to replicate in a battle against Quebec and potentially Ontario.

Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Jagmeet Singh not picking sides in pipeline battle .
Jagmeet Singh not picking sides in pipeline battle Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is refusing to take sides in the British Columbia-Alberta pipeline feud.Environmental policy resolutions are set to take up a large amount of real estate at the party's convention in Ottawa this weekend.But Singh wouldn't take the side of either of the NDP premiers currently at odds over the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.Instead, he opted for diplomacy."Premier Notley is doing exactly what she promised to do,"  Singh told CBC Radio's The House.

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