OTTAWA — If the federal government hoped to calm the waters by announcing a willingness to backstop Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, it seems to have had the opposite effect.
Within hours of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s announcement Wednesday morning, the war of words between Ottawa, British Columbia and Alberta only escalated. B.C. Premier John Horgan accused Morneau of “rhetoric and hyperbole.” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warned Horgan she’s “ready and prepared to turn off the taps” and restrict oil shipments to B.C. And Notley criticized the federal leader of her own party for taking Horgan’s side in the standoff.
But as the attacks get more personal, none of the leaders went quite as far as Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney who, asked Tuesday about Justin Trudeau’s performance on pipelines, referred to the prime minister as “an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl.”
Tensions, it would seem, are still running a little high.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan.
On Wednesday, Morneau said the federal government is prepared to reimburse Kinder Morgan for any financial loss resulting from Horgan’s “attempts to delay or obstruct the project.” The indemnification would extend to any other party that might take over the project if Kinder Morgan decides to walk away.
Morneau was quick to place blame for what he called “an exceptional situation” at Horgan’s feet. “We find ourselves in a situation where a project that’s been federally and provincially approved is being thwarted by Premier Horgan,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “We are ensuring that we’ve got the backs of Canadians.”
But Horgan showed no sign of relenting after Morneau’s announcement. “I think that’s rhetoric and hyperbole on his part,” he told reporters in Vancouver. “I think for a Toronto-based finance minister to single out British Columbia as a problem here…. I’m doing what I said I would do. I’m defending the interests of British Columbia.”
In Alberta, meanwhile, Notley accused B.C. of “a transparent attempt to kill the pipeline… by sowing as much legal confusion and uncertainty as possible.”
Her government plans to pass a bill Wednesday to restrict the shipment of energy products to B.C. “Albertans, British Columbians and all Canadians should understand that if the path forward for the pipeline through B.C. is not settled soon, I am ready and prepared to turn off the taps,” she warned.
Notley also left the door open to the possibility that Alberta could buy the project outright, saying it’s “pretty clear” that Ottawa would extend its backstop “to any buyer that came along.”
In a clear departure from his counterpart in Alberta, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attacked the Trudeau government on Wednesday, claiming on Twitter that the Liberals are giving Kinder Morgan “a blank cheque while dumping all the risks on Canadians.”
Liberals are giving Texas oil company #KinderMorgan a blank cheque while dumping all the risks on Canadians
Rigged process, First Nations & local communities shut out, oil spill threats, science ignored & now billions on the line
It’s clear this …read more