United Conservative leader Jason Kenney says the federal government has the ability to intervene and stop British Columbia’s government from “violating the Constitution” as it moves to halt the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
“Words are not enough, we need action,” Kenney told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos this weekend.
“The regulation of interprovincial pipelines is totally a federal jurisdiction. So I appreciate the federal government saying they support the pipeline that they approved, but they need to back it up with action.”
The pipeline project is currently at the centre of an inter-provincial showdown between Alberta and British Columbia, with B.C. saying it wants to restrict the amount of diluted bitumen that can be transported by pipeline or rail through the province until it can better understand the ability to mitigate spills.
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That will mean public consultations, and setting up an independent scientific advisory panel to make recommendations. That, in turn, translates to more delays for Kinder Morgan’s project, Kenney said.
He called on Ottawa to head to court now, “and seek an order suspending the prospective application of these anti-free-trade regulations.”
“They could also use a special power, Section 92 of the Constitution, to say this is against the national interest.”
The federal Liberals have offered repeated assurances that they are working to smooth things over between the two western provinces, with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr saying last weekend that until B.C. actually does something, it’s difficult to step in. Ottawa approved the Trans-Mountain expansion project in 2016.
“So far (the province) says it’s going to talk to people. It has the right to talk to people,” Carr said.
But more talk “has a real-world consequence,” Kenney argued, especially for Kinder Morgan as it works to reassure its shareholders and investors that the pipeline project will move ahead.
He accused opponents of the project of trying to “delay this thing to death.”
Kenney, a former cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, also defended the Conservatives’ attempts to get pipelines built during their time in government. Asked if he really thinks he could do better than the Trudeau Liberals, Kenney said the Northern Gateway pipeline, in particular, couldn’t get built “because Justin Trudeau vetoed it” with a ban on tanker traffic in northern B.C.
“We’re talking about a trillion-dollar-plus asset in our oil and gas, and if we don’t ship that to global markets, guess what? Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela will.”
-Watch the full interview with United Conservative leader Jason Kenney above.