Morneau on how Ottawa would handle Trans Mountain protests
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is suggesting it’s too soon to say how the federal government will respond if major protests erupt over the Trans Mountain expansion project.
“We’re a country of laws,” Morneau told BNN Bloomberg’s Tara Weber in Calgary Monday. “There will be people who have different points of view. We’re seeing our law enforcement professionals acting responsibly in the current situation – but each situation is different.”
Morneau’s comments come amid ongoing protests in some parts of the country against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. The demonstrations, which are in breach of a court injunction, have blocked some rail services between Toronto and Montreal and between Ottawa and Toronto.
“What we have to do is to ensure that we have a set of rules that works as things go through the approvals, as courts agree that we can move forward – that we’re enabling these projects to move forward. But I do think that we accept in our country that there is always going to be different points of view,” Morneau said.
The Trans Mountain expansion cleared a major hurdle last week when the Federal Court of Appeal struck down a challenge filed by several B.C. First Nations, greenlighting Ottawa’s decision last June to approve the project a second time.
Morneau said the court’s decision was “an important step” in eliminating some of the risk that project carries.
The government bought the pipeline in a $4.5 billion-deal in 2018, but has said it plans to eventually sell the project in order to get it back into the private sector. Once built, the pipeline will transport diluted bitumen, a heavy crude produced in Alberta's oils sands, to tidewater.
However, Morneau said Ottawa isn’t ready to sell the project just yet.
“We want to de-risk the project so we get the right value for Canadians,” he said, pointing to concerns about reaching an agreement with indigenous groups, as one example.
Earlier Monday, Morneau said that the government would begin a new round of consultations with indigenous groups that are competing for a stake in the Trans Mountain expansion.