Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does have his priorities.
With the pipeline battles between British Columbia and Alberta intensifying on the west coast, Trudeau hopped a plane Friday and headed to Peru.
The headline on the Global News website says it all: “Justin Trudeau heads to Peru, leaves behind Trans Mountain pipeline crisis”
Can our prime minister be that out of touch with Canadians?
Well, he did say he will cut away from his latest overseas trip to attend to the pipeline matter on Sunday. He’ll spend Sunday talking to British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. You know, just for the day. Then it’s back on the plane to resume his international follies in France and the United Kingdom for the Commonwealth Summit.
Now, Trudeau officials will tell you these summits are a big deal.
“There are two important international summits taking place with dozens of other countries to talk about a whole slate of important issues, from economic growth to democracy to Venezuela to diversity,” one official told Global News this week.
“In both of these summits, Canada is a major economic partner and plays an important role. And we believe in Canada playing an important role on the world stage and seizing opportunities within multilateral institutions.”
Democracy in Venezuela? Diversity?
But who is playing an important role on the Canadian stage in one of the biggest issues facing this country in years – the pipeline dispute? Well, Trudeau is…you know, just for the day.
I guess Trudeau didn’t pay too much attention to an open letter just the other day from more than 70 business, industry and community groups in British Columbia asking for the uncertainty around the Trans Mountain pipeline to end.
Groups like the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of British Columbia say business confidence is being shaken because of rising tensions on either side of the Rocky Mountains.
“We’re here today because the organizations and individuals in communities and businesses across this country believe we are at a point or crisis of confidence in Canada. A crisis that needs leadership and immediate attention to resolve,” said Greg D’Avignon, the president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia when those 70-plus business leaders met to talk about the dispute….without Trudeau, of course. “This is no longer about a pipeline, but a referendum to see if you can rely on government process, regulations and the rule of law with any degree of confidence if you choose to invest, create jobs and prosperity in British Columbia and our country.”
D’Avignon recognizes the importance of resolving the pipeline dispute. The premiers of British Columbia and Alberta understand that importance, too. But Trudeau just doesn’t seem to get it.
Trudeau has always pledged support for the pipeline but he has been missing in action for most of the discussions.
Apparently, during his one-day stopover in Canada from his international trip, Trudeau is planning to apply pressure on British Columbia’s provincial government to drop its resistance to the pipeline project, while at the same time trying to avoid tougher measures that might alienate voters who helped his Liberals win power, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.
“In the coming years, if this corrosive, self-interested behaviour we are witnessing persists, the confidence in our reputation in the world as a place to live, work and invest will be gone,” said D’Avignon in the Global News article.
He adds they want to see the federal government “use every tool necessary,” including the expansion of the $1.5-billion Ocean Protection Plan to provide the “leadership necessary to establish our confidence in Canada.”
But Trudeau’s leadership seems to only come at his convenience. He’ll provide that leadership for one day in resolving a dispute that so far doesn’t appear headed for resolution. If that doesn’t work, it’s probably back on the plane to attend to Trudeau’s international “responsibilities.”
But who should come first – Trudeau’s international friends or the people who elected him? We all know his answer to that.
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.