If the cost of getting the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline built costs the Liberals support in the upcoming election, so be it.
In an interview with Global National’s Dawna Friesen on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said while he no longer views federal legislation as a compelling means of pushing forward progress on the pipeline, he remains determined to get the project built and is not balking at the possibility that protests expected to continue in earnest against the project could carry a political cost to the party in 2019.
“When one is serving one’s country and when you’re trying to do the right thing for future generations, building a protected environment and growing a strong economy at the same time is something that’s more important than winning a few extra seats here or there,” he said.
The pipeline itself, however, will not have oil running through it until some time after Liberal fortunes are tested in the upcoming campaign.
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Last week, the federal government announced it will help Kinder Morgan try to find a buyer for the proposed expansion of the existing pipeline.
The Texas oil company is backing out of plans to triple the capacity of the system after years of political uncertainty.
If a buyer cannot be found roughly by July 22, the government will buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
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That cost includes the existing pipeline resources, the terminal in Burnaby, B.C., as well as Kinder Morgan Canada staff assigned to the project.
The $4.5-billion price tag does not include the billions it will likely cost to actually build the expansion and increase the flow of oil through the pipeline.
Kinder Morgan had pegged the cost of the expansion project at $7.4 billion last year.
Trudeau told Global News that the timeline for construction of the pipeline has not changed from the projections put out by Kinder Morgan.
When it comes to how far he is willing to go to deal with opponents to the project, he said the government is working to try to allay concerns but that he will not be swayed by whoever shouts the loudest.
“It’s really important for me and for Canadians that people who disagree with policies or issues be able to protest, be able to voice their opinions but it’s also important that they do so safely and in a way to respect the law,” he said when asked about how he plans to deal with protesters once construction begins.
“We’ll make sure that people are safe, absolutely, but we’ll also make sure that they’re abiding by the principles of law … either you’re a country of laws and principles or you’re a country where whoever shouts loudest gets to do things or not do things.”
The project is facing multiple court challenges from environmental interest groups, First Nations along the proposed route as well as the B.C. government.
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B.C Premier John Horgan has vowed to continue doing everything in his power to stop the pipeline from proceeding.
Trudeau did not say whether he thinks he will be able to get Horgan onside with the project but said he expects the challenges before the courts will echo the government’s argument that proceeding with the pipeline falls within federal jurisdiction.
“We’ll see what happens with them but we are very confident that we have jurisdiction and most of all, we’re very confident that we’re doing the right thing.”