Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to pile pressure on British Columbia’s provincial government to drop its resistance to a pipeline project, but will try to avoid tougher measures that might alienate voters who helped his Liberals win power, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.
Trudeau is racing against time. Kinder Morgan Canada said it would scrap the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the west coast unless all legal and jurisdictional challenges facing the project are resolved by May 31.
The pipeline, which Canada’s oil industry considers crucial, is opposed by British Columbia’s left-leaning New Democratic provincial government. Environmentalists and aboriginal activists are mounting frequent protests and British Columbia police have arrested about 200 people around Trans Mountain facilities since mid-March.
Trudeau’s Liberals picked up seats in the province in the last election, but the federal NDP – which opposes the pipeline – remains a force there.
This could make Trudeau’s federal government cautious as it is locked in a rare standoff with a provincial counterpart. British Columbia opposes the expansion, citing fears that the risk of a spill in the Pacific province is too great.
Ottawa insists it has jurisdiction over the project and Trudeau is under huge pressure to crack down. For now, he will press the provincial government, pointing to polls showing most Canadians want the expansion to go ahead.
“We need to take actions that are focused on the government of British Columbia,” said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. Trudeau will hold more talks with the province as well as Kinder Morgan Canada, the source added.
Trudeau must be careful because British Columbia voters and environmentalists gave him strong support that helped bring him to power in 2015. A crackdown could cost him support in both camps ahead of a federal election set for October 2019.
Although Ottawa says it is exploring all regulatory, legal and financial alternatives, the source conceded “there aren’t an awful lot of options for the prime minister.”
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau discussed the matter with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in Toronto on Wednesday and told reporters that Ottawa had yet to make a final decision.
“We are working, using all the tools at our disposal, to make sure we move forward in short order to absolutely ensure this project goes forward,” he said, without giving details. “We have to ensure the rule of law in this country works.”
Some pipeline supporters have urged Trudeau to declare a national emergency to push through the pipeline, but the source said that idea is “preposterous.”
Also off the table for now are calls from opposition members to reduce the payments Ottawa sends to British Columbia to help fund social programs.
“Are they actually suggesting we cut … health and social transfers to hard-working British Columbians?” said the source.
Ottawa and Alberta have talked about investing in the project, though it was unclear how that would lessen British Columbia’s opposition.
Some commentators suggest provincial and federal governments underwrite the project by providing insurance, essentially leaving them on the hook if the company decides to walk away.
If pipeline supporters view Trudeau as too soft, they could accuse him of not doing enough to prevent a constitutional crisis and of abandoning the energy industry in Alberta, where the Liberals also picked up extra seats in 2015.
“I don’t think it’s a win for him in British Columbia or Alberta under any circumstances,” said pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Research. “The problem is that is this open warfare on principle.”
Trudeau’s statement noted work remains to build a true nation-to-nation relationship.
Trudeau also noted that Canada’s 150th birthday in July will provide an opportunity to think about “the legacy of the past.”
According to CTV News, the federal government is also renaming the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous Peoples.
Trudeau says keeping the name of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin — someone associated with the residential school system — on the building that houses Prime Minister’s Office clashes with the government’s vision.
Instead, the building will be called the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.
See Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, statement issued today HERE
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary on Wednesday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )
Alberta’s climate change ‘leadership’ paved way for pipeline approvals, says Justin Trudeau
Staff | CBC News: Dec 21, 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it was the Alberta government’s leadership role in tackling climate change that allowed him to approve two major pipeline projects.
He said that without the carbon tax introduced by NDP Premier Rachel Notley, Ottawa would not have been able to justify green-lighting the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3 project.
“The fact that we are able to move forward on approving two significant, important pipeline projects for Alberta was directly linked to the leadership this Alberta government has shown … around the impacts of climate change,” he told reporters in Calgary.
The prime minister spoke earlier in the day at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce year-end breakfast.
Trudeau said opposition parties in Alberta that have vowed to scrap the carbon tax — which comes into effect Jan. 1 — don’t understand the new political dynamics at work.
Trudeau speaks to Arlene Dickinson at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce event. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
He said putting a price on carbon and capping carbon dioxide emissions from the oilsands are necessary measures for Canada to move ahead with big projects such as pipelines, while still protecting the environment.
“Quite frankly, the fact that there are a number of opposition politicians out there who bizarrely seem to be crossing their fingers that these pipelines will not get built under this current government, I think, is really dismaying, and should be dismaying for Albertans,” he said.
Trudeau said his predecessor, Stephen Harper, who claimed to be a champion for Alberta’s energy sector, was unable to deliver on pipeline approvals because he, too, refused to accept that getting energy resources to market in the 21st century requires responsible leadership on the environment.
Keystone back on agenda
During a question and answer session following his speech at the chamber, Trudeau said he supports a renewed push to get the Keystone XL pipeline built, a project U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has vowed to approve shortly after he takes office.
Trudeau told the business audience that he and Trump discussed Keystone in their first conversation after the U.S. election.
“He actually brought up Keystone XL and indicated that he was very supportive of it,” Trudeau said during a question-and-answer session after his speech.
“I will work with the new administration when it gets sworn in … I’m confident that the right decisions will be taken.”
The 830,000 barrel per day pipeline would carry oilsands crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest. It was rejected by the Obama administration last year.
Trump has previously said he would approve the pipeline but wanted a “better deal” for the United States.
Trudeau said if the United States takes a step back on fighting climate change under Trump, Canada will capitalize.
Climate change is a fact and fighting it is where the rest of the world is going, he said.
And while there might be short-term benefit in ignoring it now, he said, if Canada sticks to its plan, the country will be attractive to investors who are looking decades down the road.
Pipelines safer than rail, PM says
Trudeau said moving crude oil via pipeline is safer for the environment and more economical than moving it by rail.
Almost all of Canada’s oil is currently exported to the U.S. Pipelines that carry oil from Canada are at capacity, so a lot of it is going by rail. Canadian oil also faces a significant discount in U.S. Midwest refineries because it’s heavier and more expensive to refine than light crude.
Alberta’s premier could find herself at odds with both Trudeau and Trump on the issue of Keystone, said Duane Bratt, who teaches policy studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
“She hasn’t said a word, one way or the other, about Keystone, since the American election. And she had always been opposed to it,” he said.
“It was easy to be opposed to it when you saw that Obama was about to get rid of it.”
Calgary on Ottawa’s mind
Trudeau said his government’s decision to green-light Trans Mountain and Line 3 shows that Calgary is top of mind in Ottawa under his leadership.
“What happens in Calgary is important. It’s important to Alberta and all of Canada,” he said.
“And as I said in making the announcement, these approvals are a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families and for the Canadian economy.”
Trudeau said the projects will create upward of 22,000 jobs and demonstrate to Canada and the world that responsible resource development can happen in concert with solid environmental protections.
“That way of thinking, that we have to choose between growing the economy and protecting the environment, simply doesn’t work,” he said.
Cheers from business crowd
Speaking ahead of Trudeau’s address, Calgary Chamber of Commerce president Adam Legge drew a round of applause from the business crowd as he praised the Liberal government for approving Line 3 and Trans Mountain in the face of stiff opposition from environmentalists.
“We thank you for your leadership and your courage in that decision,” he said.
“Getting more resources to market was a critical missing element of our national infrastructure. We are all buoyed by this decision and are ready to get to work.”
Tyrone Cattleman, a member of the local plumbing and pipefitting union who came to hear the prime minister speak, said he’s optimistic about the new pipeline projects.
“I really hope he goes through with those plans, to create more jobs for the younger generation,” he said.
A protester is detained by Parliamentary Security and the RCMP after she attempted to go through a barrier during a demonstration on Parliament Hill, Monday October 24, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The Canadian Press, Oct 24 2016
OTTAWA – The Liberal government’s conflicting climate and pipeline policies were thrown into sharp relief Monday as more than 200 protesters marched on Parliament Hill demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reject any new oilsands infrastructure.
The protest resulted in the brief detention of 99 individuals, all of them issued citations by the RCMP for trespassing after climbing over police barricades near the foot of the Peace Tower.
The immediate focus of the demonstration was the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., which the Liberals have said they’ll decide upon by mid-December.
But the larger theme was keeping fossil fuels in the ground, as many signs proclaimed, and urging Trudeau to keep his word on Canada’s international emissions-cutting promises.
On Monday, the World Meteorological Organization released its 2015 inventory of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and found that, on average, there were 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere. That compares to about 278 parts per million before the industrial revolution.
The report predicts that “2016 will be the first year in which CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory remains above 400 ppm all year, and hence for many generations.”
It is that cumulative increase that pipeline protesters insist doesn’t allow for more expansion of fossil fuels such as Alberta’s oilsands.
“Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines,” said a giant banner carried at the front of the protest group, which was dominated by university students from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Protest organizers called it the largest act of student climate civil disobedience in Canadian history, but the boisterous rally was a polite affair.
After some initial pushing and shoving at the police barricades, the protesters began individually climbing over the gates, often with police assistance, where they were then charged. The first dozen or so were handcuffed before being led away, but most of the detained protesters were not.
Andrew Stein, a McGill University environmental sciences student, said forcing the police to arrest them was the point of the exercise.
“It gets attention and it gets the word out there that climate leaders do not build pipelines,” Stein said in an interview shortly before climbing the barricade himself.
Protest spokeswoman Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a third-year University of Toronto student, said pipeline approvals are a deal-breaker for many younger voters who helped propel the Trudeau Liberals to a majority government in last October’s general election.
“If Trudeau wants us on his team in 2019, he cannot approve this (Trans Mountain) pipeline,” said Harvey-Sanchez.
“We’re coming here to the capital to call on Trudeau to reject Kinder Morgan.”
Protest organizers said the 99 detained individuals, including Stein and Harvey-Sanchez, were issued citations that bar them from Parliament Hill for three months, but they were not fined.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr shrugged off the protest, saying “dissent is the hallmark of democracy.”
“We’ve been saying all along that environmental stewardship and economic growth go hand-in-hand in Canada,” he said.
“We have already announced — and we will continue to announce — very aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, always mindful of job opportunities for Canadians in the clean technology sector and in the energy sector overall.”
Katzie First Nation Chief Susan Miller (left) and her sister, Debbie Miller, stand with protesters outside the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain hearings in Burnaby, B.C. on Wed. Jan. 20, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.
First Nations in opposition of Trudeau government’s approval of pipelines
By Elizabeth McSheffrey | National Observer
First Nations chiefs across Canada haven’t discussed the details of the plan yet, but they aren’t ruling anything out if the Trudeau government approves the construction of a major pipeline project that crosses their territory without their consent. Several are still waiting on the results of court cases before they make their move, and others are already preparing for the worst.
“You may see hordes descending upon Parliament Hill,” said Chief Susan Miller, of the Katzie First Nation in B.C. “We have had some discussion around what civil action would look like, and I think the more we work together, that’s what brings out the hordes. It’s an impressive sight, to see thousands of people coming out for a common cause.”
Last year, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to renew nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous communities, and has repeatedly told Canadians since then that “governments grant permits, communities grant permission.” And after thehistoric signingof a pan-continental Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, Indigenous leaders have renewed their resolve to hold him to those promises with all resources available to them.
“In that crowd, you’re not just going to see First Nations people, you’re going to see your neighbour next door who doesn’t support this either,” Chief Miller, whose community is fighting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, told National Observer.
“We’re just the vessel to push that all through, and I think when the numbers speak like that, the government can’t continue to disregard [us].”
Tsleil-Waututh spokesperson Rueben George, Coun. Charlene Aleck, and manager of cultural relations Gabriel George open the signing ceremony for the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion in Vancouver, B.C. on Thurs. Sept. 22, 2016
Youth action in Ottawa in October
Nearly 90 Indigenous leaders in Canada and the U.S. have already signed the Treaty Alliance, which aims not only to protect their territories from pipeline, tanker, and rail projects, but to move society towards cleaner, leaner, living as well. Major proposals they take issue with include Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion (from Alberta to B.C.), TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline (from Alberta to New Brunswick), and Enbridge Northern Gateway (from Alberta to B.C.)
But the presence of non-Indigenous allies, including a number of environmental organizations, at its signing ceremonies in Montreal and Vancouver, add weight to Chief Miller’s claim: Indigenous activists in North America are not alone.
“We strive to act in solidarity with Indigenous folks,” said Gabriel D’Astous, a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia and pipeline protest organizer for Climate 101. “They’ve been on the front lines and blocking tar sands projects that threaten the earth and water, and have been defending their rights and lands for years and decades now.”
D’Astous and his team are organizing a youth rally in Ottawa on Oct. 24 to urge the Trudeau government to reject the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, which has been opposed by at least 21 municipalities and 17 First Nations in Western Canada. He said he, and many of the other protesters, are willing to be arrested in what he hopes will be the largest youth civil disobedience action of its kind in Canada.
Youth have been a powerful force in pipeline protests across the country, including this demonstration against the Trans Mountain expansion in Vancouver, B.C. on Aug. 17, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.
Preparing for pipeline protests
While First Nations, environmentalists and other key stakeholders across North America argue that oilsands expansion increases the risk of catastrophic oil spills, threatens critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and pushes international climate targets out of reach, energy companies argue that they will revitalize struggling Canadian economies by bringing energy to overseas markets. Industry also argues that they are using state-of-the-art technology that promotes responsible development of resources such as the vast oilsands deposits in Alberta – considered to be the world’s third largest reserve of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
All of the major pipeline companies say they are also trying to work collaboratively with First Nations. For example, Kinder Morgan says it has signed more than 20 “mutual benefit agreements” with Indigenous communities along the route of its Trans Mountain corridor. These would be confidential agreements that could include education and training for pipeline construction jobs as well as improvements to community services, infrastructure and other benefits.
Greenpeace — one of the loudest environmental organizations speaking out against pipelines — doesn’t buy industry’s logic. Since the start of the year, it has trained 800 protesters across Canada with new skills in non-violent action, civil disobedience, and media communications during 40 training sessions conducted in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Nunavut, and Quebec.
Calls requesting the training sessions peaked after the National Energy Board (NEB) conditionally recommended the Trans Mountain expansion in May, said trainer and organizer Earyn Wheatley, and have been steady since the conflict of interest scandalinvolving former Quebec premier Jean Charest, TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, and the NEB was brought to light over the summer.
“I think there could be unprecedented mobilization and action in opposition to these pipelines if the projects go forward in the way that they have been,” the Greenpeace staffer explained. “That’s definitely a core interest of people who are coming to participate in these trainings — they’re very concerned about those pipelines, and many are saying that the NEB process has been very problematic.”
The organization plans to hold 15 more protest training sessions before the end of the year, with those in Quebec targeting Energy East, and those in B.C. targeting the Trans Mountain expansion, which is due for a decision from the federal government on Dec. 19. Teagan Stacey, a graduate of these trainings, has even started her own non-violent ‘kayaktivist’ group called the BC Seawolves, which will stand in solidarity against Trans Mountain with Greenpeace and First Nations.
“We’re showing the government that we’re not going to let this go through, and if they think they can push it through where members of this oppose it, we’re going to make sure it’s stopped,” she told National Observer. “We recognize this has huge implications for the rest of our country, and the rest of the world through tar sands expansion. All of that we bring with us out in the water.”
Kayaktivists target the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby, B.C. during a protests against the company’s Trans Mountain expansion on Sat. May 14, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.
First Nations happy to have cross-Canada allies
While not all Indigenous nations in Canada are opposed to oilsands expansions, and some have signed on in support of pipelines crossing their territories, those who oppose the energy projects are happy to have allies across the country. They’re also happy to serve as allies to others, said Tsleil-Waututh First Nation spokesperson Rueben George, who recently visited the Standing Rock Sioux fighting the Dakota access pipeline in North Dakota.
He said their movement, which has recently prompted a halt in construction of the controversial pipeline, has been guided by their elders, cultural, and spiritual values, and the movement in Canada will be too.
“I know [our] elders, community and leadership have been doing the same thing,” he told National Observer. “Campaign promises were made to boost not only the health of First Nations and nation-to-nation negotiation, but economics as well. Doors are opening for that. I’m excited about that.”
Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council in Prince George, B.C., who met George at the Treaty Alliance signing in Vancouver on Thursday, said he too, is excited about the shifting relationship between First Nations, governments, and the rest of Canada. What’s happening in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Sioux camp will most certainly be replicated across the provinces, he explained, “if it comes to that.”
“I think [pipeline approval] will be for I believe, many First Nations, a tipping point of our relations with government and corporations where we’ll have to stand up for what we feel is right, and protect our rights and title, and Mother Earth,” he said at the signing. “We very much appreciate the outside help. It feels great knowing we have allies out there.”
This article was originally published by By Elizabeth McSheffrey in the National Observer on September 27th 2016
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