Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is standing firm on his government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, saying if last week’s court decision had come down when the pipeline was still in private hands, the project would be dead.
Trudeau made the remarks while appearing on 630 CHED on Wednesday morning, ahead of a busy day in Edmonton where he faced questions about his government’s plans for the beleaguered Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
LISTEN BELOW: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 630 CHED
“Our decision to actually take on the project is the only thing that means we can still move forward with this project because we have a greater tolerance for risk and, quite frankly, our focus is not on making a profit off the pipeline,” the prime minister said.
“Our focus is on getting that pipeline built the right way so we can finally get our oil resources to markets other than the United States.”
The Federal Court of Appeal’s decision last week stated that the government needed to do more consultation with Indigenous people as well as take potential environmental issues into account.
Trudeau said the government is looking at different paths forward, from legislation to an appeal, but stated several times the best way to move forward is to follow the guidance given by the court.
“One thing we don’t want is this project to fail once again because we didn’t do the things the court said we have to do to get it done,” he maintained.
“We’ve already done a lot more than the previous guys did, but we’re going to do more to make sure this pipeline gets built in the right way.”
He also cautioned against using “legislative tricks” to force the project through to avoid future conflicts.
“Using a legislative trick might be satisfying in the short term, but it would set up fights and uncertainty for investors over the coming years on any other project because you can’t have a government keep invoking those sorts of things on every given project.”
WATCH BELOW: Will the federal government appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “we are looking at all options.”
At her own news conference on Wednesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley expressed concern about worrying too much about what the court’s ruling suggested.
“I personally worry that if we just keep going back and forth to the courts and saying, ‘Is this good enough? Is this good enough? Is this good enough?’ without giving the courts more direction, (then) we’re just going to be on a regulatory merry-go-round that isn’t going to help anybody,” she said.
WATCH BELOW: Political analyst John Brennan shares his thoughts on the Trans Mountain pipeline setback as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Edmonton on Wednesday.
Trudeau met with Notley at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald on Wednesday afternoon.
A spokeswoman for Notley said the meeting will be about the Trans Mountain pipeline, and that the premier hopes to discuss possible paths forward for the controversial project.
“The federal government does have the authority of the legislature at their disposal – and I’m not talking about completely throwing the whole thing out – but there are ways in which legislatively we can find a more science-based process that is fulsome but also timely, that gives people certainty, and that’s a function of the authority of parliament,” Notley said Wednesday.
WATCH BELOW: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he understands Albertans’ frustrations on the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling to quash the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The scheduled meeting will mark the first time the two leaders have spoken face-to-face since a Federal Court of Appeal ruling overturned the approval of the pipeline expansion.
Hours after the ruling last week, Notley said she was pulling Alberta out of the federal government’s climate change action plan until the Trudeau government gets “its act together” and takes steps to move the pipeline project forward.
Last week, a panel of three judges said the National Energy Board’s review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal was so problematic that the federal government could not use it as a basis for its decision to approve the project.
Notley said she has laid out two specific demands for the prime minister in the wake of the court ruling: the federal government should file an appeal through the Supreme Court of Canada as soon as possible and Trudeau should call an emergency session of Parliament to “assert its authority” and fix the NEB consultation process, which was criticized in last Thursday’s court
During her news conference last week, Notley was hopeful that consultations could restart in the new year. On Wednesday, Trudeau couldn’t say whether he thought his government could make that happen.
“We would like to see shovels in the ground as quickly as possible, there is no question about that. This is a priority for Alberta, this is a priority for the country. Getting our resources to markets across the Pacific matters to all Canadians, but we need to make sure that it is done right.
“Getting that right is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ It is mandatory if we’re going to continue to develop our natural resources.”
WATCH BELOW: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a priority for Albertans and Canadians. But he maintained, the project must be done right.
Trudeau will make a number of other stops in Alberta’s capital on Wednesday.
His itinerary also includes a tour of CanmetENERGY’s Devon Research Centre and a visit to the Bhartiya Cultural Society of Alberta. He will be accompanied by Edmonton MP and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi. On Wednesday morning, he made a stop at NAIT’s new Productivity and Innovation Centre.
At the end of his visit, Trudeau will appear at the Delta Hotel Edmonton South for a fundraising event for the Liberal Party, billed as “An Evening with the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau.”
The appearance will be open to the media, but it was not immediately clear whether reporters will have an opportunity to address Trudeau.
Tickets to the event, which ranged from $150 to $500, are sold out, according to the party’s website.
WATCH BELOW: The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was centre stage in Edmonton Wednesday as the prime minister visited the capital city. Justin Trudeau maintains the project will go ahead but has yet to release the government’s next steps. Vinesh Pratap reports.
— With files from Phil Heidenreich and Slav Kornik, Global News