Singh accuses Liberals of 'driving a wedge' between Alberta, B.C. over Kinder Morgan
OTTAWA – The federal government’s "heated remarks" and "threats" to see the Kinder Morgan pipeline built are "driving a wedge" between two feuding NDP provinces: Alberta and B.C., says federal leader Jagmeet Singh.
Throughout the battle between Alberta and B.C. over the pipeline project recently put on hold by the Texas-based company, the federal government has argued that it is in the national interest.
After Kinder Morgan announced it was suspending all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, citing British Columbia’s opposition, the federal government said it is looking at regulatory, legal, and financial options to see the pipeline built.
"These comments do not serve to unite. Instead, they are driving a wedge between Albertans and British Columbians," Singh told reporters in the House of Commons foyer Wednesday, citing the threat of "punitive and divisive sanctions" against B.C., such as halting provincial transfer payments.
Singh, who is opposed to the pipeline based on what he called "a sham" environmental review process, is instead calling on the federal Liberals to partner with British Columbia, First Nations, and Alberta to seek greater clarity from the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question of jurisdiction.
Singh said he has been in continuous contact with both Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley and NDP B.C. Premier John Horgan over the last few days on this issue.
"This would provide much-needed clarity to all involved," he said. It is unclear whether this process would be able to be expedited through the courts fast enough to meet the pipeline company's May 31 deadline for a resolution. But Singh argues it will be a lot quicker than having B.C. go it alone through the courts, as the province has suggested.
Citing concerns from coastal communities about oil spills, and the Liberals’ decision to “dismiss and ignore” Indigenous people, Singh said the Liberals are to blame for the current uncertainty about the pipeline’s future.
"This is not a path to reconciliation, this is not a science-based approach, this is not leadership," he said.
Responding to a question Wednesday evening about whether or not the federal government is considering taking Singh's suggestion, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he doesn't see the need to refer the pipeline fight to the Supreme Court "when we already know that it's a federal jurisdiction." He said it’s "not a course of action that makes sense."