Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon says the fate of the proposed Teck Frontier oilsands mine will tell Albertans once and for all whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is all talk about wanting to protect national unity.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Nixon said Albertans are tired of being told they aren’t taking climate change seriously enough and view federal approval of the project slated to be built in northeastern Alberta as a litmus test for federal good will.
“Their actions in the next few weeks will finally tell Albertans once and for all whether the prime minister is serious about working with this province or not,” said Nixon.
The proposed mine would be double the size of Vancouver.
The company behind the project has spent years going through the approval process for the project and the federal government is slated to decide within the coming weeks whether to give cabinet approval to the project.
But federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has tied that approval to whether the government believes Alberta is taking climate change seriously enough, and pointed to actions like the province’s continued opposition to the federal carbon tax in court.
Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland have also been vocal though, in saying they understand the economic anxiety and anger in provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, which locked the Liberals out of any seats in the fall election.
Both have met repeatedly since the election with those provincial premiers and mayors.
Nixon argued he thinks the federal government is finding itself in a “political problem” between their pledge to work with Alberta and the need to keep their key supporters satisfied.
“That’s a tough spot, maybe, that they find themselves in but I don’t care,” Nixon said.
While the cabinet is supposed to make a decision on the project by the end of February, Wilkinson has said they also have the option to delay.
The proposed mine would produce roughly 260,000 barrels of oil per day.
As for carbon emissions, the estimate on production from the mine would be four million tonnes per year.
–With files from the Canadian Press.