Trudeau: Pipelines wouldn't have been approved without Notley's 'responsible' leadership
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 4:14AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 21, 2016 9:30PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a ringing endorsement of Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley, saying that the federal government likely wouldn’t have approved two major pipeline projects without her “responsible” leadership on the province’s carbon tax.
Trudeau made the comments Wednesday afternoon during a visit to Calgary, where he also discussed the historic agreement with to U.S. to ban offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and how he plans to entice international oil and gas investors to Canada.
Asked how he’d respond to Albertans who oppose Notley’s carbon tax, Trudeau said: “I say to them, without Premier Notley’s approach on taking real action to build for the future and lead for the fight against climate change, we wouldn’t have been able to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion or the Line 3 approval, most likely.”
The two pipeline projects have been touted as major economic investments in Alberta’s economy and are expected to create more than 20,000 jobs.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline will bring Albertan oil to tidewaters in B.C. and allow Canada to diversify which countries it sells oil to. The Line 3 approval, which will extend through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, will increase the capacity of oil transported from Alberta to Wisconsin.
Alberta’s carbon tax of $20-per-tonne is set to take effect on Jan. 1. The tax, which Albertans will pay in their energy bills and at gas pumps, will gradually increase to $30-per-tonne in 2018.
Trudeau said the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines simply wouldn’t have been approved without “strong, clear action on the environment” and the approvals were “directly linked” to Notley’s government.
“We need to do better on protecting the environment, but we need to get our resources to international markets. And we’ve been able to do that because of the responsible leadership shown by premiers like Rachel Notley,” he said.
The Liberal government has given other provinces a deadline of 2018 to institute similar carbon pricing rules of $10 per tonne. If a province does not impose the pricing on its own, the Liberal government has said it plans to implement the carbon pricing model in that jurisdiction.
Trudeau brushed aside concerns that putting a price on carbon emissions could dissuade international oil and gas investors from putting their money in Canada, saying that he’s spoken with many investors who are “looking very, very favourably at Canada.”
“They’re looking at the capacity of an extraordinarily well-educated, well-formed workforce to create efficiencies, to create extraordinary growth within their industries,” he said.
In particular, Trudeau suggested that Canada stands out on the global stage as other countries become fearful of globalization and adopt “short-term thinking.”
“The predictability that we are offering in Canada is extremely appealing in a world that is more and more unstable and which the pushback against the forces of globalization, the fear of multinationals, the fear of international trade is running rampant in countries and democratic circles around the world,” he said.
Trudeau also revealed Wednesday that he spoke with President-elect Donald Trump in their first and, so far, only phone conversation about the prospect of building the Keystone XL pipeline.
“He actually brought up Keystone XL and indicated that he was very supportive of it and hoping that were going to be able to work together,” Trudeau said.
The Keystone XL pipeline would stretch for 1,897 kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to Nebraska, and has been touted as a way to create thousands of new jobs on both sides of the border. However, the project has been met with widespread criticism from environmental groups and, in Nov. 2015, President Barack Obama rejected the project, saying it "will not serve the national interests of the United States."
Trudeau also had sharp words for opposition politicians in Alberta – such as Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Jason Kenney -- who have vowed to repeal the carbon tax if elected and fight the policy at a national level. Trudeau said voters in Alberta should “be asking very tough questions” about any candidate who is “rooting” against the Trans Mountain pipeline extension.
“So quite frankly, the fact that there are a number of opposition politicians out there who bizarrely seem to be crossing their fingers that these pipelines will not get built under this current government, I think is really dismaying and should be dismaying for Albertans,” he said.
Arctic drilling ban
The prime minister was criticized Wednesday by some northern leaders who say they were barely consulted before the announcement was made Tuesday that Canada would stop issuing offshore oil and gas licenses in the Arctic.
Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod said he first heard of the decision two hours before it was announced Tuesday. McLeod suggested that the decision was made without proper economic considerations of northern communities and was instead a political move to court voters in southern Canada.
Asked about the criticism, Trudeau said that he personally spoke with three territorial leaders and several indigenous leaders over the past few days “to inform them of this opportunity we had to protect the Arctic for future generations.” Trudeau said that the leaders understood the importance of environmental protections but also need economic development.
“And I absolutely agree,” Trudeau said. “And that’s why we’ve committed to working with those communities to create infrastructure investments to create opportunities for fishing, for science, for a broad range of economic activities that will benefit the north in immediate ways.”
He added that the consequences of a deep-water oil spill under Arctic sea ice would be “unimaginable” for communities and ecosystems of the Arctic.
With files from The Canadian Press