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Trudeau in 'financial' talks to resolve heated pipeline dispute

16 April 2018

Trudeau said while his government is committed to working with both premiers to find a solution, "we must recognize that they remain at an impasse which only the government of Canada has the capacity and the authority to resolve".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday moved to end an escalating crisis over a Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd oil pipeline, saying Ottawa was prepared to offer financial aid to ensure the project went ahead.

Canada was told in advance that the U.S., Britain and France were planning to launch airstrikes against Syria, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday - but was not asked to participate.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who also attended the talks in Ottawa, said she was convinced the expansion would be built if the financial assistance deal could be worked out. The cabinet decided the project, which will build a new pipeline that runs parallel to an existing one but can carry twice as much, was in the national interest.

Trudeau cited investor confidence as one reason to help Kinder Morgan Canada, part of Kinder Morgan Inc, which plans to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain line from Alberta to the Pacific province of British Columbia.

"We engaged in financial discussions with the pipeline owner, Kinder Morgan", he said.

Speaking before the meeting, a federal government source said past examples of help included a bailout of the auto industry in 2009, federal loan guarantees for a hydro-electric project and Ottawa's investment in an offshore energy project.

Last weekend, Kinder Morgan announced it would halt all non-essential spending on Trans Mountain until it could be assured B.C. would stop actively opposing the project. But he said, "Canadians and people around the world know that we can not choose between what is good for the environment and good for the economy".

Trudeau has insisted the project should be completed but the British Columbia government has fought it in the courts. The company set a firm deadline of May 31 to have that request fulfilled.

Horgan emerged from the meeting Sunday showing no intention of letting off on his opposition to the pipeline.

Notley said Alberta and Ottawa will work together to "eliminate" investor risk, saying progress is being made to ensure the pipeline will go forward.

The opposition has claimed that new policies introduced by the Trudeau Liberals, including a carbon tax and hefty new legislation aimed at altering environmental assessments for major projects, has already caused foreign capital to flee Canada. "My responsibility is to defend our coasts and to defend the interests of British Columbians, and I'll do that until I'm no longer the premier", he said.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence thanked Canada for backing the strikes and explicitly singled Trudeau out for praise during his address to summit participants.

Withholding funds is the best way to make a point, he said. Canadian oil producers have long suffered from a lack of available pipeline capacity to get their product to market, causing the value of Canadian oil to fall compared to producers in the US and elsewhere. It's also sparked a dispute between the provinces of Alberta, which has the world's third-largest oil reserves, and British Columbia.

Trudeau in 'financial' talks to resolve heated pipeline dispute