The chair of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth says Canada would be shooting itself in the foot if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project fails to be completed as calls to solve the ongoing dispute grow.

Dominic Barton, who is also the managing director of consultancy McKinsey & Company, told BNN that it’s a necessity to get the pipeline built even if you are an environmental activist.

“Our resources are more carbon-friendly than many other countries’ resources, so we’re actually shooting ourselves in the foot globally if we’re preventing our resources from getting out there to be able to play a role in the global economy,” Barton said in an interview Friday.

“I think we’ve lost the force for the trees here, and that’s why I think it’s important we get this done.”

While Barton agreed that people would not be happy with a pipeline going through their backyard, he said the country has much better ways to handle such projects.

“The fact of the matter is those products have to go out through a port somewhere,” he said.

“I think this is part of what we do when we build infrastructure – it is going to have an effect. But you’re going to have to look at what’s the whole benefit. If I’m in B.C., there’s jobs that are going to be created.”

Barton’s comments come ahead of a crucial meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers of B.C. and Alberta on Sunday in an effort to find a resolution for the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline before Kinder Morgan’s deadline of May 31.


When asked if federal force or the emergencies act should be invoked if the premiers can’t agree on a deal, Barton said he did not think the federal government would have to go there.

“I actually think we can figure out a way – we’re Canadian. I know it doesn’t sound tough to say we’re not going to force stuff,” he said.

“Let’s step back a bit, there’s obviously a lot of heat going on. The point is we have to get a decision… I don’t think it has to end up that way.”

He added that Kinder Morgan’s response to the situation was “being realistic,” saying the energy infrastructure giant can’t wait forever and Canada has to make a call.

“Delays cost companies a lot of money, they have shareholders they have to make returns for, you just can’t have an endless delay,” Barton said. “In the private sector, you’re going with where decisions can actually get made.”