The big pipeline predicament: how far will Trudeau go to get it built


OTTAWA — When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits down in Ottawa this morning with the premiers of British Columbia and Alberta it will be the first time the three biggest political players in the Trans Mountain pipeline predicament are in the same room at the same time.

There may be attempts to figure out if B.C. Premier John Horgan has a price for withdrawing his opposition but the real question today is whether Trudeau and the federal government are ready to say how far they will go to get the pipeline built.

The government is looking at several different options to minimize the risk to the pipeline’s investors which could include insuring the return on investment, buying a stake in the project or putting up cash to cover cost overruns that result from construction delays.

What he can do to overcome the political risk may take a lot more than one meeting with two premiers.

The Liberals seem convinced only a small number of their 18 B.C. seats are at risk over approving a pipeline but on Saturday Quebec’s minister for Canadian relations warned Trudeau it would be a mistake for Ottawa to ram through the project with no regard for provincial rules.

The Liberals have 40 seats in Quebec, and hope to grow that number in the next election but polls suggest outside of B.C. opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline is highest in Quebec, a province where many voters are very wary of a federal government overstepping into provincial autonomy.



The Canadian Press