Enbridge Line 5: Canada invokes 1977 treaty again over dispute

Click to play video: 'Canada invokes little-known treaty over Line 5 Pipeline dispute'
Canada invokes little-known treaty over Line 5 Pipeline dispute
The federal government has invoked a little-known energy treaty over Calgary-based Enbridge’s Line 5 Pipeline. As Ina Sidhu reports, this is just the latest in the long running saga over the pipeline. – Aug 29, 2022

The Canadian government is invoking for the second time in less than a year a 1977 treaty that will force the American government to negotiate over the fate of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced the invocation of the treaty in a statement on Monday, pointing to the “significant” impact shutting down the pipeline would carry for Canadian jobs and bills.

“The economic and energy disruption and damage to Canada and the U.S. from a Line 5 shutdown would be widespread and significant. This would impact energy prices, such as propane for heating homes and the price of gas at the pump,” she said.

“At a time when global inflation is making it hard on families to make ends meet, these are unacceptable outcomes.”

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Joly added that the government fears the “domino effects” of a shutdown into both the oil industry and other areas of the Canadian economy, as well as into communities on both sides of the border.

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She said invoking the treaty will ensure crude can continue flowing while officials negotiate.

“This treaty ensures the uninterrupted transmission of hydrocarbons — in the case of Line 5, light crude oil and natural gas liquids — from one place in Canada to another, transiting through the United States,” she said.

“Canada is committed to working constructively to find a solution that responds to the interests of communities, respects Canada’s rights under the treaty and ensures the continued and safe supply of energy to central Canada.”

Click to play video: 'Line 5 closure could mean Ontario fuel shortages: experts'
Line 5 closure could mean Ontario fuel shortages: experts

The dispute over Line 5 stems from concerns raised by the Michigan government over recent years.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has raised fears that the aging pipeline will leak and cause serious environmental damage. Enbridge has rejected those fears, saying the pipeline is still safe but that it will build a new tunnel to contain the pipeline.

The Canadian government invoked the treaty in November 2021 after mediation with the state failed. Invoking the treaty will trigger necessary negotiations with the U.S. federal government.

With the latest invocation, the Canadian government is reacting to court cases challenging the pipeline that are underway in neighbouring Wisconsin, where Line 5 skirts the southwestern shores of Lake Superior before crossing into Michigan.

An Indigenous band in Wisconsin is arguing that Enbridge no longer has the right to operate on its territory.

— with files from Reuters and The Canadian Press.

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