Throughout last year’s election campaign and his government’s first year in office, Trudeau has championed the environment, promised to work with First Nations communities and revamp the review process for energy projects.
He reneged on some of those. Considering the scope of yesterday’s announcement, though, there is a little nuance. Trudeau had long said no pipeline should run through the Great Bear Rainforest, and pledged a moratorium on oil tankers off British Columbia’s northern coast.
In killing the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Liberals made good on those promises.
But in the same breath, Trudeau approved two other projects: Enbridge’s Line 3 (carrying oil from Alberta to Wisconsin) and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line (carrying bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast).
Those approvals provoked cries of betrayal, dishonesty and political pandering from environmental groups across the country and opposition MPs in Ottawa, given some promises he’s made.
WATCH: Pipeline opponents take to downtown Vancouver streets
Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Trudeau “betrayed” British Columbians, many of whom fiercely protested oil conduits running through their province and onto their shores.
Green Leader Elizabeth May, meanwhile, summed up the decisions as “political opportunism of the worst kind,” challenging Trudeau’s claim he based his decisions on evidence.
The Council of Canadians said Trudeau can no longer claim to lead on climate change, and that the Liberal government had “carefully crafted an agenda that would provide cover” for the approvals since coming to power.
WATCH: Burnaby residents, mayor feel betrayed by approval
During the election campaign, Trudeau said he would overhaul the National Energy Board and change the process for reviewing energy proposals. He also pledged to work with and consult indigenous communities. He painted himself as a defender of the environment. And he frequently said to voters it’s the communities that grant permission — the government can only grant permits.
It’s those promises that have the critics up in arms.
The Liberals offered a supplementary review of the Trans Mountain expansion project, but not a completely new review, as was promised.
Opposition among First Nations communities to Kinder Morgan’s project was strong: one indigenous community in North Vancouver launched a suit last year against the National Energy Board while it was reviewing the proposal. Approving Trans Mountain, critics are saying, ignores legitimate concerns from First Nations.
“Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises of a new approach to Indigenous reconciliation ring increasingly hollow,” Patrick DeRochie, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence, wrote in a pointed statement following the announcement.