Former federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would never treat Quebec the way he is treating British Columbia in the ongoing battle over pipeline. Mulcair says Trudeau is breaking the rules of confederation by trying to force the pipeline twinning down B.C.’s throat.
“There is no question this is not something Mr. Trudeau would have ever tried with Quebec,” said Mulcair. “This is indeed a federation, environment is a classic shared jurisdiction between the federal and the provincial government. What Mr. Trudeau is trying to do now is unilaterally impose financial and other sanctions on British Columbia which I am convinced he never would have tried to do with Quebec.”
Mulcair’s comments come just days before B.C. premier John Horgan, Alberta premier Rachel Notley and Trudeau are set to meet in Ottawa on Sunday. Notley and Trudeau are in favour of the pipeline, while Horgan campaigned in the 2017 B.C. provincial election on the point that the project could be detrimental to British Columbia’s coast and was not in the best interest of the province.
The federal government has jurisdiction over infrastructure that crosses provincial borders, including highways and pipelines. The current Trans Mountain pipeline runs from just north of Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and the pipeline expansion would triple its capacity to move raw bitumen.
Trudeau said he would never approve a project like the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline twinning unless it was done by fully independent environmental review body. Mulcair, who served as a cabinet minister in Quebec before jumping to federal politics as an NDP MP from Montreal, says the process used for this project was not fully independent and, because of that, the federal government does not have the social license to go forward with the project.
“He did not keep his word to British Columbians,” said Mulcair. “The Liberal government right now in Ottawa is not respecting the promise to renew the assessment system.”
“Everyone in British Columbia are allowed to ask themselves why is he trying to shove Kinder Morgan down their throats without respecting their jurisdiction.”
Major pipeline projects have been a problematic issue for Trudeau’s government. The Liberals backed down from the Energy East project, to which the Quebec government was firmly opposed. The one major difference is that, unlike the Trans Mountain project, Energy East was brand new infrastructure.
Mulcair says another concern is that the Liberal government promised to work more closely with the provinces, unlike Harper’s government that took an adversarial approach.
“Mr. Trudeau promised a cooperative approach to federalism,” said Mulcair. “What we are seeing here is anything but a cooperative approach. It is threatening and frankly it does not respect provincial jurisdiction.”
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