Timing of when feds might sell Trans Mountain up in the air: Morneau
Published Sunday, June 3, 2018 7:00AM EDT
OTTAWA -- This week, Canadians were told they'll soon become owners of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, it's a purchase the federal government could be holding onto for some time.
In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period, Morneau said the timing of the "eventual" sale isn't nailed down. It’s also contingent on assurances the twinning of the pipeline will be completed.
"Our first principle is that the project needs to get done. So, we may be able to get it back into the private sector in the shorter term if we're convinced we can meet that objective, or it might take a little longer to actually de-risk it," Morneau said.
He and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced May 29 that in order to see the stalled pipeline expansion built, it will spend $4.5 billion to buy the existing line from Kinder Morgan. Once the sale is finalized, it will take on the remaining construction of the addition -- and with that, additional spending is anticipated.
After the sale is complete -- anticipated this August -- the federal government will pick up the construction before selling it to a new "long-term" owner.
While purchasing the pipeline and all related assets sets the federal government on stronger ground to justify its jurisdiction, there are still court references, protesters, and opposition from the B.C. NDP government the Liberals will need to navigate.
Despite saying the move will be a profitable investment, Morneau said that the private sector is the place that the pipeline should ultimately be.
"One way or another we're going to get it back into the private sector," Morneau said.
He said investors are already expressing interest in taking the pipeline off the federal government’s hands, but if it takes longer to shore up, Ottawa is OK to wait.
Though, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, a staunch opponent to the project, is skeptical about the value of a pipeline built in 1953 and the true cost of the assets to construct the twinning expansion.
"We think we're going to make a profit? Not in anyone’s universe," May said on CTV’s Question Period.