As Trans Mountain deadline looms, will Ottawa need to find a new partner?
British Columbia Premier John Horgan is refusing to accept blame for the tug-of-war over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
“Contrast what these other players are doing with what I’m doing,” he told reporters in Chilliwack, B.C., shortly after a remarkable sequence of events.
It started early Wednesday with Finance Minister Bill Morneau accusing Horgan of “unconstitutional” threats and offering to indemnify Kinder Morgan or any other party that takes ownership of the controversial $7.4-billion pipeline.
A few hours later, Kinder Morgan Canada acknowledged Morneau’s announcement, while stating the company remains “steadfast” and declared it’s “not yet in alignment” in its ongoing discussions with the federal government.
That was followed by Alberta passing landmark legislation to intervene in energy exports, and Premier Rachel Notley declaring she’s “ready and prepared to turn off the taps” and choke off the flow of oil to B.C.
“I made it abundantly clear that I believe it’s not in our best interest to put at risk our marine economy and our marine environment,” Horgan said late in the day. “I said that during the election campaign, and since I was sworn in I have not in any way disrupted the Kinder Morgan process.”
Horgan said he is trying to protect the province's interests by joining two legal cases over the project and asking the B.C. Court of Appeal whether the province has the right to preserve its environment through a permitting system for hazardous substances that are transported inside its borders. He also said his government has issued permits to Kinder Morgan “in a timely manner.”
"The federal government is announcing it will spend public dollars to shore up a private company that knew the risks of proceeding with their project when they signed on," Horgan added.
Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the pipeline project that would twin the existing pipeline between Burnaby, B.C., and Edmonton. The company wants assurances it can proceed without delays by May 31.
Horgan said blaming B.C. for the pipeline impasse is focusing on the wrong target.
"The prime minister called me back to Ottawa (last month) and said we were going to do something, and I said, 'Fair enough, do what you like,' and today I guess we're getting the first step of that," said Horgan. "It seems to me it's mostly rhetoric and hyperbole instead of substance British Columbians and Canadians can grab on to."
He challenged Ottawa to act on the pipeline.
"Either you are going to do something federal government or you're not," said Horgan. "Wanting to demonize me, that's fine, that's politics."
With files from The Canadian Press