Fact check: Did Justin Trudeau break his word by approving pipelines?

Click to play video: 'Pipeline reaction on social media'
Pipeline reaction on social media
When the news broke Tuesday that the federal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, social media was flooded with reaction, both positive and negative. Online Producer Amy Judd has a look at what people are saying – Nov 30, 2016

Justin Trudeau broke a promise, so his critics said following the prime minister’s approval of two major pipeline projects —  Enbridge’s Line 3 and Texas-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain.

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.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain, Line 3 are moving forward – they could still face major delays

In killing the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Liberals made good on those promises.

Story continues below advertisement

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 

Click to play video: 'Pipeline opponents take to the streets'
Pipeline opponents take to the 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.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Burnaby residents, mayor feel betrayed by approval

Click to play video: 'City of Burnaby reacts to pipeline approval'
City of Burnaby reacts to pipeline 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.

READ MORE: Pipelines vs. the environment: weighing greenhouse gas emissions against the economy

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.

Story continues below advertisement

“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.

Sponsored content