Ottawa to buy Trans Mountain pipeline project, what does this mean for BC?

Click to play video: 'Did the Prime Minister have a choice on Trans Mountain?'
Did the Prime Minister have a choice on Trans Mountain?
WATCH: After the Prime Minister said earlier that "this pipeline will be built," many are wondering if Justin Trudeau had a choice in the decision to purchase the Trans Mountain project. Keith Baldrey has more – May 29, 2018

The federal government announced Tuesday it plans to spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and all of Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says that in return, Kinder Morgan will go ahead with its original plan to twin the pipeline this summer while the sale is finalized, which likely won’t happen until August.

“We believe this is the best way to protect thousands of well-paying jobs and the safest and most effective way to get our resources to world markets,” Morneau told a news conference in Ottawa.

WATCH: Kinder Morgan opponents react to Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

Click to play video: 'Kinder Morgan opponents react to Trans Mountain pipeline purchase'
Kinder Morgan opponents react to Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

B.C. Premier John Horgan joined Jon McComb on CKNW Tuesday morning, saying this was never about who owns the pipeline. “I reiterated to him that it never mattered to me who owned the pipe it was the product that was travelling through it and the potential negative consequences to our environment and our economy that I was concerned about,” said Horgan. “Whether it was Bill Morneau Inc. or Acme Pipeline Company or Kinder Morgan it never really mattered to me.”

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“It was about the project and the potential negative consequences. I reinforced that to him and he and his government are going to have to be accountable to taxpayers.”

READ MORE: Ottawa inks deal to buy Trans Mountain pipeline project for $4.5B

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“We maintain the former process, the National Energy Board process, was flawed,” added Horgan. “The federal government now agrees with us because they have scrapped the old one.”

“We are continuing to make the argument in a legal framework that B.C.’s interests need to be protected.”

LISTEN: B.C. Liberal Leader reacts to federal government pipeline purchase

Legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey says Tuesday’s announcement was a “bombshell.”
“Justin Trudeau has signaled all along he’s gone all in on this pipeline project, it had to be built, the deadline that Kinder Morgan had set was just two days from now so in some ways it’s a stunning announcement and in other ways it’s not a surprise at all because the amount of political capital [Trudeau] had invested in this was enormous,” says Baldrey.
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There are still a number of protests and court challenges against the pipeline expansion in B.C. It is unclear at this time exactly where those stand.

WATCH: B.C. Premier John Horgan reacts to Trans Mountain deal announcement 

“Our approach will be to move forward, to advance the cause of getting the pipeline done,” said Morneau. “We will recognize that Canadians have a right to express their point of view in a legal fashion and that will continue to be an important part of our democracy.”

B.C.’s challenge in the Federal Court of Appeal is still ongoing, challenging the Liberal government’s approval of the expansion project. A number of First Nations groups argue they had not been adequately consulted by the National Energy Board process to allow this pipeline expansion project to proceed.

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“Until we get that court case settled one way or another, we still don’t have a sense of finality over whether this project will proceed,” says Baldrey.

“Those court challenges will continue. I expect Horgan to say that today.”

WATCH: Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart on pipeline announcement

Click to play video: 'Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart on pipeline announcement'
Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart on pipeline announcement

Burnaby-South MP and Vancouver mayoral candidate, Kennedy Stewart, who has been arrested for protesting the pipeline expansion says this is a “bad idea.”

“I’ve walked this pipeline route, I’ve gone on the reserves, I’ve gone in the communities in Burnaby and across the Lower Mainland. The original pipeline is literally a few metres away from people’s homes, which is not legal so I think the government has really pulled, they’ve got a huge white elephant here, and Kinder Morgan like usual is making off like bandits, laughing all the way back to Texas,” said Kennedy.

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LISTEN: Canadian Taxpayers Federation weighs in on pipeline purchase
He adds he wants Horgan to continue opposing the project.

“I think the government has really stepped in it today. I mean, if the biggest pipeline company in the world can’t make this work why would the government make this work? And they’re risking billions, I would say 15 to 20 billion when this price is over. Who’s going to buy that from them?”

“This is a desperate move and I’m still going to do everything I can to stop it.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has responded online, saying “this is a major step forward for all Canadians.”

READ MORE: Elizabeth May pleads guilty to criminal contempt for role in Kinder Morgan protest

WATCH: Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Tuesday that there was no legislation required for the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline

Click to play video: 'No legislation needed for Trans Mountain deal, natural resources minister says'
No legislation needed for Trans Mountain deal, natural resources minister says

Reaction from groups against the pipeline expansion is starting to pour in.

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WATCH: Minister Bill Morneau on how the feds will force the Trans Mountain expansion project through B.C. 

Click to play video: 'Morneau light on details about how to force Trans Mountain through BC'
Morneau light on details about how to force Trans Mountain through BC

Greenpeace Canada released a statement in response to the decision, saying:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has just signed up to captain the Titanic of tar sands oil pipelines, putting it on a collision course with its commitments to Indigenous rights and the Paris climate agreement. Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built — a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics, and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.

LISTEN: How will the market react to the pipeline purchase?

“The Indigenous-led, people-powered movement that led Kinder Morgan to abandon ship on this project is stronger than ever and will not back down. Today’s decision comes in the midst of mounting resistance against the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”
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Ruth Breech at the Rainforest Action Network said in a statement:

“The Trudeau government’s reckless choice to compel Trans Mountain endangers the lives and welfare of its citizens. Trans Mountain is the third major pipeline project to stall in two years because pipelines spell disaster. Kinder Morgan is a bad investment that no one doing their due diligence would touch.”

WATCH: Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday that they don’t have to sell the Trans Mountain pipeline to the private sector, but would look into expressions of interest to do so and whether it should happen sooner or later.

Click to play video: 'Morneau talks about when and how they would sell Trans Mountain pipeline'
Morneau talks about when and how they would sell Trans Mountain pipeline

Export Development Canada will finance the purchase, which includes the pipeline, pumping stations and rights of way along the route between Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as the marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C., where oil is loaded onto tankers for export.

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Morneau says the federal government does not plan to be a long-term owner and is in negotiations with interested investors, including Indigenous communities, pension funds and the Alberta government, which will provide funding for any unexpected costs that arise during construction.

“To investors considering Canada as a place to build big, important, transformative projects like the Trans Mountain expansion, we want you to know that you have a partner in Ottawa,” Morneau said.

The deal brings some certainty to an expansion project that has been on the rocks ever since B.C. went to court in hopes of blocking it, fearing the impact of a spill of diluted bitumen, the raw output from Alberta’s oilsands.

Energy adviser and constitutional lawyer Ian Blue said could also spell trouble for B.C.’s reference case seeking jurisdiction to restrict bitumen flows in the pipeline.

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He said a pipeline project under a crown corporation is exclusively under federal jurisdiction.

“It is not under provincial jurisdiction nor is the bitumen flowing through it subject to provincial jurisdiction which is the issue the B.C. case is seeking to have determined,” he said.

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