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Fate of Frontier oilsands mine will prove whether Trudeau ‘serious’ about unity: minister

TMX pipeline expansion provides ‘economic hope’ for Alberta: Edmonton mayor
WATCH ABOVE: TMX pipeline expansion provides ‘economic hope’ for Alberta: Edmonton mayor

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.

READ MORE: Alberta’s climate plan factors into cabinet decision on new oilsands mine. says Wilkinson

“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.

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Prime minister has to decide if he is serious about working with Albertans: Nixon
Prime minister has to decide if he is serious about working with Albertans: Nixon

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.

Federal cabinet mulls fate of $20 billion Teck Frontier oilsands mine
Federal cabinet mulls fate of $20 billion Teck Frontier oilsands mine

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.

READ MORE: Kenney wants swift approval from Trudeau for Teck Frontier oilsands mine

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.

Both sides trying to sway opinion on Teck Frontier mine
Both sides trying to sway opinion on Teck Frontier mine

“That’s a tough spot, maybe, that they find themselves in but I don’t care,” Nixon said.

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READ MORE: Teck Frontier project to challenge Trudeau’s climate policies, relationship to Alberta: expert

“They want to work on the unity issue. We have been clear, as the Alberta government, this is one of the main issues that has to be addressed for that to be successful … he [Trudeau] has to decide if he’s serious about working with Albertans or if he’s going to prove what most people in this province believe, and that is that Justin Trudeau’s not interested in our success, he’s not interested in the unity of this country and he’s not going to stand with Albertans.”

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.

Edmonton mayor says Alberta needs to demonstrate how its working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Edmonton mayor says Alberta needs to demonstrate how its working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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.