Pipeline ruling comes at bad time for Trudeau Liberals
For Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberals, the timing couldn’t have been worse. On Thursday, as Canadian negotiators in Washington were struggling to salvage whatever they could from the floundering NAFTA talks, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the government’s signature Trans Mountain Pipeline project.
Both the North American Free Trade Agreement fiasco and the pipeline decision strike at the heart of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s economic strategy. That strategy relies on free trade deals and oil exports to keep the economy humming while the government concentrates on its ambitious social policy agenda, such as bettering the lot of Indigenous Canadians.
Of the trade deals, the NAFTA pact tying together Canada, the U.S. and Mexico was the most crucial. Similarly, of the pipeline projects, none was more important to the federal government than the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion. It would bring heavy oil from the Alberta tarsands to British Columbia’s Pacific coast, where it could be loaded into oceangoing tankers.
Indeed, the Trudeau government deemed the Trans Mountain Pipeline so important that it agreed to buy it for $4.5 billion from its U.S. owner and pay all the costs of expanding it. This no longer seems like such a good deal.
The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s National Energy Board failed to take into account the effect of increased tanker traffic on B.C. coastal communities. It also ruled that the government failed to adequately consult Indigenous communities affected by the pipeline. It said construction cannot continue until these two defects are remedied. (Continued: Toronto Star)