Just a day after a government-initiated motion declared a “climate emergency,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline on Tuesday.
The decision was almost a year in the making. Trudeau decided to nationalize U.S.-owned Kinder Morgan’s Canadian assets last summer after the company began to express doubt that it could finish the pipeline because of chronic environmental protests and judicial interference.
The pipeline is planned to extend from Edmonton to Vancouver and is vital for the transport of oil from Alberta to overseas markets. After nationalizing the project, Trudeau did nothing to begin construction, provoking increasing anger and resentment in Western Canada. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney even alluded to the growing threat of separation in his province as a result of alienation from the federal government. (RELATED: Pipeline Supporters Target Trudeau For Creating ‘Recession Turned Depression’)
“We have been assured by the company that their plan is to start construction this summer,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday — after emerging from a cabinet meeting. “There is still a number of immediate steps to do in terms of permitting, but the pipeline is to have shovels in the ground this summer.”
Trudeau did not speculate as to when the pipeline might be finished, even if work begins quickly. It could take as long as four years to complete the project, according to the National Post.
The prime minister admitted that some “will not be convinced by the arguments we put forward. We accept that.” (RELATED: Trudeau Explains How He’s Helping To Reduce Plastics — With Drink Boxes)
The Liberal government increasingly finds itself between an economic rock and an environmental hard place with policy matters. Though Trudeau has imposed a nation-wide carbon tax on all fossil fuels, he has also acknowledged that the collapse of the energy sector would be catastrophic for Canada.
While approving the Trans Mountain Pipeline just before Parliament recesses for the summer, the Liberal government is expected to push Bill C-48 through the House of Commons, legislation that would prohibit oil tankers from stopping anywhere along the northern coast of British Columbia.
On Monday, Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna introduced a motion declaring that “climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity” and “that Canada is in a national climate emergency … ” The Official Opposition Conservatives did not support the measure.
When Canada’s Conservative provincial premiers sent a joint letter to Trudeau to articulate their opposition to his energy policies, the prime minister shot back that he thought it was “irresponsible for Conservative premiers to be threatening our national unity if they don’t get their way.”
The next federal election will occur this October.