Scheer, Trudeau at odds over blame during phone call on Teck Frontier mine cancellation
OTTAWA -- As the dust settles from Teck Resources Ltd.'s announcement that it is withdrawing its application for an oilsands mine in Alberta, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leadership Andrew Scheer are at odds over where to lay blame.
In the Conservative Party's readout of a Monday phone call between the two leaders, Scheer says he used the conversation as an opportunity to question Trudeau about "his weak leadership in response to these illegal blockades."
"Mr. Scheer said the Prime Minister’s weakness over the last few weeks has sent a signal to businesses across Canada that the rule of law will not be upheld, court injunctions will not be enforced, and major projects cannot get built," the readout from the Conservative Party said.
Trudeau had called all opposition leaders to update them on the work being done to resolve the blockade situation. In his conversation with Scheer, the prime minister provided an update on the rail blockades and then offered more briefings from ministers.
According to a source familiar with the phone call, it was then that Scheer turned the conversation towards Teck's decision to cancel their application for a mine in Alberta, which was estimated at $20 billion and was slated to create 7,000 jobs.
Trudeau, according to the source, told Scheer that the decision was a business one and was not made by the government.
According to the Conservative Party's readout, however, Scheer pinned the blame for the company's withdrawal on "political unrest" and the ongoing rail blockades that have cropped up across the country in opposition to a planned natural gas pipeline in B.C.
In a letter to the federal minister of environment and climate change on Sunday, Teck CEO and President Don Lindsay said the decision was "difficult."
"Global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products," the letter states.
"This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved."
The decision came just two days before the federal cabinet was expected to make its own decision as to whether to approve the project.
Scheer and Trudeau weren't the only ones searching for someone to blame after Teck announced the decision. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney tweeted that the withdrawal was "clearly the result of federal regulatory uncertainty & the current lawless opposition to resource development."
"[Alberta] did our part, but the federal government's inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down," Kenney continued in a statement released on Twitter.
However, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley shot back at Kenney, tweeting that the "Premier himself is the one to blame."
"The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application," Notley said in a statement released on Facebook.
Multiple prominent Conservatives also took to Twitter to express their frustration with the decision. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel attributed the decision to the "gleeful fecklessness of Trudeau and inherent inequities in Confederation."
Conservative leadership hopefuls Erin O'Toole and Peter MacKay also pinned blame on the government.
"The regulatory regime, tax levels, anti-investment environment, reckless activism and incompetence of the Federal Liberal government are destroying the economy of the country we know and love," MacKay said.