The Liberal government announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline and infrastructure related to the expansion project for $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan.
The price does not include any additional costs of expanding the pipeline.
Today, we’ve taken action to create & protect jobs in Alberta and BC, and restart construction on the TMX pipeline expansion, a vital project in the national interest. Watch Ministers @Bill_Morneau and @jimcarr_wpg: https://t.co/cgAn3lH8jq
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 29, 2018
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said the purchase would ensure that work begins in time for the summer construction season, and that it represents “a sound investment opportunity” for Canada.
“Our government believes that the commercial agreement we have reached with Kinder Morgan is the best way to protect thousands of good, well-paying jobs while delivering a solid return on investment for Canadians. This is an investment in Canada’s future,” he said.
Kinder Morgan will proceed on twinning the pipeline while the sale is being finalized. The transaction is expected to close by August.
The government does not intend to be the long-term owner of the pipeline, however, and has already begun speaking with interested parties about transferring ownership later on.
Morneau couldn’t say what additional costs, if any, would be incurred by Canadians in building the pipeline.
BC Liberals take aim at Horgan
BC Liberal party leader Andrew Wilkinson didn’t mince words in a statement blaming the purchase on Premier John Horgan’s continued opposition to the project.
“John Horgan picked a fight with Alberta and provoked a constitutional crisis with Ottawa over this project and this is now the embarrassing result,” Wilkinson said. “The lack of leadership on this issue is now fully evident. Horgan and the NDP continue to play politics with British Columbia’s future, and this time it will cost us billions.”
Horgan, for his part, said the change in ownership does not change his party’s stance on the pipeline, nor his concerns with the project.
“I’m concerned that there could be catastrophic consequences of a diluted bitumen spell, regardless of the owner of the pipeline,” Horgan said in a press conference Tuesday morning.
“The good news though is that I now know the owner and have his phone number, and I can call him with my concerns,” Horgan told CBC Radio.
Horgan was adamant that his government should not shoulder any blame for the cost taxpayers may or may not incur. “The federal government has made a choice that was motivated by the decisions of a private company that gave a deadline not to me, not to BC, but to stakeholders. The government responded and that’s their business.”
“The finance minister is responsible for the decisions he made today, and he’ll be accountable for that.”
Other political figures took to social media to share their thoughts on the decision.
Green Party leader and MLA for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May said Kinder Morgan was “laughing all the way to the bank.”
MLA for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Nathan Cullen said that “[Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau just dropped $4.5 billion of your money on a 65 year old pipeline that leaks.”
Federal Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer fired at Trudeau, calling the purchase an admittance by the prime minister that he “has failed Canadian energy sector works and investors.”
Alberta premier Rachel Notley, whose government recently passed legislation allowing the province to restrict oil shipments, said on Twitter that the deal “puts people to work building the pipeline right away and it will help us build up the things that matter to working families, such as our schools and our hospitals.”
Protests planned in Victoria and elsewhere
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the Council of Canadians Victoria chapter announced it would be holding a protest on Thursday, May 31, against the pipeline expansion.
It’s not yet known if the date of the protest will be moved up in light of today’s decision.
Indigenous chiefs and First Nations have already assembled in Montreal earlier this week to protest the project, and Indigenous groups protesting the pipeline’s construction in Burnaby said they’ll push back regardless of Tuesday’s announcement.
“This is the moment in history where Justin Trudeau has revealed that he never cared about Indigenous rights or reconciliation,” said Will George, Tsleil-Waututh member and spokesperson for the Coast Salish Watch House.
“The cost that they did not calculate in their $4.5 billion purchase is that Indigenous frontlines will stop this pipeline.”