Now that Trudeau’s vacation has come to an end, he should settle the B.C-Alberta pipeline dispute

So Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is finished with his vacation in India, where he danced around in funny-looking clothes making a fool of himself. Maybe, it’s time to get serious now.

How about Trudeau get in the middle of the British Columbia-Alberta pipeline battles? So far, Trudeau has pretty much stayed out of this dispute.

But sooner or later, he’s going to have to do something about it. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver told CTV’s Question Period Sunday he’s not backing down from his efforts to stop the pipeline from being built.

“You can bet that British Columbia will not stop the fight over this,” Weaver told Question Period host Evan Solomon.

On Thursday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suspended the province’s ban on B.C. wine after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his government would file a constitutional reference on the issue and not move ahead with reviewing limits on diluted bitumen shipments. So there’s somewhat of a truce. Horgan is content to let the courts settle this.

But the courts shouldn’t be in the middle of this. The prime minister is the guy who should get in the game.

Trudeau wants to see the pipeline approved and built. But so far, he’s only used words to get across his position.

“My job at the federal level is to always stand up for the interests of all Canadians, that’s why we put in place a process understanding that you can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy, you have to make sure you’re taking care of both of them fully at the same time,” he said.

According to the prime minister, that’s why there was a consultation process, considering voices both against and in favour of the pipeline in British Columbia.

“We made a determination on Kinder Morgan as being in the national interest,” Trudeau says.

If that’s the case, then how come Trudeau isn’t working to get the job done?

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline System, or simply the Trans Mountain Pipeline, is a pipeline that carries crude and refined oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia. Trans Mountain says on its website, the pipeline will bring many benefits to B.C and Alberta.

“As one of the world’s largest oil producers, the industry provides great benefits to Canada through taxes, jobs and investments in capital projects.

Twinning the Trans Mountain Pipeline will inject $7.4 billion into Canada’s economy through project spending and help our country export these resources by moving oil to the west coast for marine transport to markets around the world,” the company says on its website. “The project will also lead to new jobs in the short and long term, job-related training opportunities and increases in taxes collected through all three levels of government.

“By increasing Canada’s capacity to get resources to market, producers will see $73.5 billion in increased revenues over 20 years,” Trans Mountain’s release goes on. “Federal and provincial governments will see $46.7 billion in additional taxes and royalties from construction and 20 years of operation, higher producer revenues and additional tanker traffic.”

But Weaver is vowing to keep up the fight and take this dispute to the courts, if it’s not solved to his satisfaction.

He expects more protests to come as the fight wages on, citing recent public opinion polling that shows even some British Columbians don’t want the project to go ahead.

“It doesn’t take a great deal of work for people to go there to the site and protest,” he said in the CTV report.

That’s just it. These days, if you’re against a pipeline, just block a road.

Indigenous people are experts at it and it drives law enforcement officials nuts.

But former B.C. premier and Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh said both provinces are acting irresponsibly when it comes to this energy project.

“There should be no threats. They should sit down and figure out how we’re going to try and get the Alberta bitumen out to the shore… or go to court,” Dosanjh said on CTV’s Question Period.

Earlier this month, Global TV’s Radio Host Charles Adler hit the nail on the head.

“Today, we’re looking at the possibility of Fort McMurray and Kamloops taking opposite sides in the fires of a feud fueled by politics and fed gasoline by the indifference of a self-absorbed prime minister,” Adler wrote back on Feb. 8. “His response to the simmering feud is to download the same empty talking points that he uses in campus town halls filled with slobbering fans who are convinced he is something he isn’t and likely never will be — a historic world leader.”

Well, you know how these pipeline disputes usually play out, don’t you?

After extensive consultation and hearings, the pipeline gets approved and then the protests begin.

Indigenous people start blocking roads and the opponents of the project go about civil disobedience. If all that is to be prevented and all interests served, the only course of action here is for the sides in this dispute to sit down and hammer out a resolution. So far, there seems to be little interest in that.

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson  is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining  Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.

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