Feds not currently considering selling Trans Mountain, open to Indigenous buyers
OTTAWA -- The federal government is not currently looking at selling the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Though, when that time comes, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says it'd be "good" if there are Indigenous groups looking to buy in.
For now, the governing Liberals are occupied with seeing the project go ahead after the federal court threw out cabinet’s approval, ordering the government to re-do parts of its consultation with Indigenous peoples and to factor in the impacts on the increased tanker traffic that comes with the expanded pipeline.
On Wednesday the government announced it was relaunching Indigenous consultations with the help of a former Supreme Court justice, and would not be appealing the court's ruling. It also recently launched a National Energy Board review of the coastal impacts, with a 22-week window.
"We're going to pursue this on commercial terms, so that's the approach we’re taking. Right now we're actually not in the period where we’re considering the sale of the pipeline or the expansion, because we’re in the process of getting it done," Morneau said in an interview on CTV's Question Period, denying any consideration of gifting the project once it’s up and running.
When he announced the purchase of the cross-provincial pipeline and its expansion from Kinder Morgan, Morneau said that Indigenous groups, pension funds, and "multiple" others have expressed interest in the project. He described the $4.5 billion buy-out as a "fair price for Canadians," and said the commercial agreement is a "sound investment opportunity."
On the show, Morneau said that when they get to the stage of selling the pipeline, "we'd like to move back into private sector."
"It would be in my estimation a good thing if Indigenous peoples were engaged in that process, but we've been pretty clear it’s going to be on a commercial basis," Morneau said. "We're not even there yet."
Concerns over new consultation
On CTV's Question Period, former B.C. premier Christy Clark offered her advice on getting a resource deal done, after the LNG natural gas project which she championed got the green light earlier this week. She said the key is building meaningful relationships with the Indigenous communities along the route, and listening to what they need.
"Here's the advice I offer to people who want to build a pipeline... It is make sure that you spend the time as a government championing the projects. Government has to have a kind of ownership of the projects because people in our provinces are going to benefit," she said.
Though, as The Canadian Press has reported, some Indigenous people are cautious about the government’s revisiting of consultations.
Pam Palmater, chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, questioned whether or not the new process already has a forgone conclusion because of the government's adamancy in getting the pipeline built.
"The whole purpose of consultation is to see if a project should even go ahead. The Supreme Court of Canada has been very clear that sometimes you'll be able to accommodate the concerns, and sometimes it’s going to mean the project shouldn’t go ahead. Everyone is assuming this project should go ahead," she said on CTV’s Question Period.