Prime Minister, premiers meet over controversial Trans Mountain pipeline

Prime Minister, premiers meet over controversial Trans Mountain pipeline

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.

At the same time, however, Trudeau - speaking after a rare Sunday meeting with the warring premiers from both provinces - concedes there is more his Liberal government is willing to do to protect the B.C. coastline from a possible oil spill.

In an interview with French business daily Les Echos ahead of a visit to Paris, Trudeau acknowledged that environmentalists were "concerned" by the Trans Mountain pipeline. "It will be built".

Rachel Notley, the premier of Alberta, had one objective, which is to get the pipeline built without delay. Horgan, however, betrayed no evidence that their confidence had anything to do with him. This is a bid to try and take the wind out the sails of Horgan's court challenge.

The Prime Minister's comments after today's meeting are disappointing.

"This specific meeting was very much about bringing together two premiers who have very clear differences and approaches and, particularly, impressing upon British Columbia that the federal government will be exerting its constitutional authority to move forward on projects in the national interest that cross provincial boundaries", Trudeau said.

"The federal government, along with the government of Alberta, has commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that will eliminate investor risk", Notley said. He also promised legislation that would reaffirm Ottawa's authority to press ahead with a development deemed to be in Canada's national interest.

The prime minister revealed few details on the planned legislation and upcoming financial discussions, but he did share that the closed door talks between Morneau and Kinder Morgan "are happening" in Calgary, Toronto, Houston and NY.

Horgan's opposition to Trans Mountain - rooted in part in the fact his tenuous NDP government depends on the support of the Green party, which staunchly opposes the project - is the main reason Kinder Morgan put the brakes on non-essential spending on the project a week ago.

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Kenney said in recent days the federal government has said everything's on the table to ensure construction, yet we aren't getting closer to getting this critical project built.

Mr Trudeau's Liberal government in 2016 approved the expansion project, aimed at helping landlocked Alberta ship its oil sands to the Pacific coast and then to overseas markets. Approval came in consultation with the previous B.C. Liberal government, which gave its consent to the project after its own conditions were met. Horgan defeated Clark in an election past year.

Horgan said that Trudeau made no threats and made it clear he had no intention of punishing B.C. residents. "That is why we are at this point right now". But he also accused Horgan of ramping up his rhetoric about environmental uncertainty and gaps in the federal oceans protection plan, without providing details.

Kenney said the projects future looks bleak, but he is still hopeful that common sense will prevail.

Kathryn Harrison, a UBC political scientist and senior associate dean of arts, said no one was really expecting much out of the meeting.

"We are feeling a lot better about it", said Notley. "The federal government is there to ensure that the national interest is upheld", Trudeau said.

Horgan's news conference was barely over before Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was at the podium, laying the blame for the impasse squarely at the prime minister's feet.

"His damaging policies. have only led to more uncertainty and instability in Canada's resource sector", Scheer said, describing an energy sector that is now convinced that "Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada".

At the legislature Sunday, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel said Ottawa already has the jurisdiction it needs.

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