Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains “very, very confident” the Kinder Morgan pipeline will get built but refused to say whether the government had secured any extension to a deadline imposed by the firm for a clear go-ahead by the end of the month.
“We continue to work very, very hard, both visibly and behind the scenes,” Trudeau told reporters during a media availability in Calgary on Tuesday.
“When we have something to announce, you guys will be the first to know.”
Tensions between Alberta and B.C. reached new lows earlier this year over attempts to stall the project, which would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline to carry crude oil to tankers on the West Coast.
B.C. Premier John Horgan introduced measures to restrict the flow of bitumen through the province in an attempt to stop the project from going ahead.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley then banned imports of B.C. wine in retaliation and is threatening to cut off the tap of oil flowing into the province to force Horgan to acquiesce.
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The feud forced Trudeau to assert that the pipeline will get built regardless of B.C.’s opposition and to argue that the federal government has the constitutional authority to force it through.
Amid that spat — and on the same day as a vigil being held for the Humboldt Broncos tragedy — Kinder Morgan issued an ultimatum demanding the government give it the clear go-ahead by May 31.
That deadline is now two weeks away and despite an emergency meeting of Horgan, Notley and Trudeau in Ottawa last month, as well as multiple meetings between federal and provincial officials, there is no sign any announcement of a resolution is near.
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When pressed to quell fears among pipeline supporters, Trudeau repeated that the pipeline was in the federal jurisdiction and nothing he could say would likely make his critics happy.
“Let’s be honest about these things. I don’t think there is anything I can say that would reassure some of my critics that have such little faith in my government getting anything done for Alberta,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any magic phrase I can say that’ll have the critics and skeptics put down their criticism … I’m not speaking to them. I’m speaking to the rest of Albertans.”
Kinder Morgan shareholders are holding their annual general meeting in Calgary on Wednesday.
Trudeau did not say whether he had plans to meet with anyone from the company while in the city.