Prime Minister Justin Trudeau owes a clear explanation to Canadians of how the government plans to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built in light of a recent court decision to overturn federal approval of the project late last month, a federal committee heard Tuesday.
The House of Commons Natural Resources Committee held an emergency meeting to consider a motion by Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs that a study be launched into the Liberal handling of the expansion project to date and specifically, the decision to purchase the pipeline for $4.5 billion in the spring.
While the motion was defeated by the Liberal majority on the committee, opposition members used the meeting to hammer the government on what they described as its failure to provide answers and confidence to Canadian businesses and workers amid the uncertainty caused by the decision.
“I think it’s fair of us to expect the Liberals deliver a plan for how they expect this pipeline to go ahead,” Stubbs said.
“They owe that accountability to the owners of the pipeline which, because of the Liberals’ failures, is now every single Canadian.”
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre, who is not a member of the committee and cannot vote on the motion, also spoke at the discussion and called for a “shareholder meeting” for Canadians now on the hook for what he called a “monstrous Liberal boondoggle.”
“If the government has nothing to hide, it should have nothing to fear in bringing management for this project before this esteemed committee,” he said.
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It is not clear whether the sale of the pipeline has officially been processed.
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NDP MP Richard Canning tried to ask during the meeting whether the transaction has gone through but did not receive an answer.
“This isn’t the forum for that question,” said James Maloney, the Liberal chair of the committee.
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Finance Minister Bill Morneau has pledged to go ahead with the purchase of the pipeline from Kinder Morgan despite the court decision.
That ruling by a panel of three Federal Court of Appeal justices said that the Liberals “fell well short” of their duty to consult Indigenous people during the last stage of its consultation process, and ordered that stage to be restarted.
The court decision also said the review of the project proposal done by the National Energy Board was flawed because it did not include an assessment of the potential impact of tanker traffic related to the project.
“This was not our first choice but it is the right choice to protect thousands of jobs to ensure this project moves forward in the right way,” said Marc Serre, Liberal MP for Nickel Belt and a member of the committee.
“We are going to review the ruling.”
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The motion by Stubbs had asked for no fewer than six meetings to be held starting by Sept. 6 in order to conduct the study.
It also asked that both the finance minister and natural resources minister appear for no less than one hour.