Don Martin: Liberals tilting toward becoming a pipeline party more than a green party
This June 12, 2014 file photo shows Dominion Energy's Cove Point LNG Terminal in Lusby, Md. (AP/Cliff Owen, File)
Published Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:00PM EDT
As optics go, it had the look of freefalling down the rabbit hole.
Things kept getting curiouser and curiouser.
There was a senior cabinet minister, showing off the Great Bear Rainforest to the Royals the day before her government approved a natural gas pipeline to run right through that pristine reserve.
Then a natural gas super project, which will boost British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions by almost nine per cent, was proudly announced by … the environment minister.
And, to top it all off, what is trash-talked as a carbon bomb got the green light exactly a week before Parliament is expected to ratify the ambitious Paris global climate change treaty on carbon reductions.
Ok, so they need to work on timing, but the drift of this government suggests the Liberals are tilting toward becoming a pipeline party more than a green party.
The LNG approval this week sets up the December decision on an oil pipeline to Vancouver, which reportedly has the private personal blessing of the prime minister.
Contrast that to the Conservatives, who thumped their chest in support of laying pipe in any direction but didn’t connect any resources to oceans or new markets during the ten years they were in power.
It will, of course, be a marital miracle with voters if Justin Trudeau emerges from both decisions with his honeymoon intact.
The fury of some First Nations and environmentalists will not be mollified, even with thousands of protective conditions.
And unless this prime minister wants to become the second Trudeau vilified forever in Alberta and Saskatchewan, he really does have to approve a pipeline to a coast - and quickly.
Mind you, there could be an escape hatch in all this to hand Trudeau a win-win from what looks like a guaranteed lose-lose.
If the Petronas consortium decides low gas prices render their investment uneconomical, the LNG megaproject will be stillborn.
And if Donald Trump is elected president, he’ll endorse the Keystone XL pipeline. That would give the oilsands an escape to tidewater and negate the urgency for Trudeau decisions on domestic pipelines east or west.
That would set up the ultimate curious reality.
Justin Trudeau could end up giving pipeline approvals to deliver oil and gas resources to market - and be saved from those daunting decisions when nothing actually gets built.
That’s the Last Word.