Canada's Trudeau defends pipeline project


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Sunday his government's backing of a controversial pipeline project, the Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd oil pipeline, claiming the world could not afford to choose between the environment and the economy.

The meeting comes just a week after Kinder Morgan announced that it was suspending all non-essential work on the $7.4 billion project, citing what it called "extraordinary political risks".

Trudeau spoke at the end of a remarkable eight-hour stopover in the national capital, an unscheduled break from his overseas trip to accommodate the last-minute summit with B.C.'s John Horgan, who has staked his government's survival on opposing the pipeline, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, whose province's economic health depends on it.

Notley, meanwhile, said she felt "a lot better" following the meeting - and that once Morneau's talks with Kinder Morgan were complete, the project would proceed.

Indigenous leaders are promising to continue the fight against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite the prime minister's insistence that it will be built.

At a press conference following the meeting, Notley said that the "constitutional crisis" creating costs almost $40 million a day.

He declined to give details on exactly what the ruling Liberals had in mind to end an impasse that is prompting investor unease and could threaten his political future. "If the federal government was serious about this, the simplest thing would have been two weeks ago, to pick up the phone and say, 'You know that meeting we scheduled to sign the ($4.1 billion) in infrastructure funds?"

On Tuesday, Trudeau will become the first Canadian prime minister to address the French National Assembly and the most recent leader to be given that rare opportunity since King Felipe of Spain in June 2015.

"The approval process for this pipeline. featured the most extensive consultation with Indigenous communities across this country that we've ever seen", he said. "What he is ignoring is that we are the uncertainty", said Will George, an organizer with Protect the Inlet from Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, in a press release Sunday.

She said her government had begun "significant conversations with Kinder Morgan around the financial arrangements that will make sure that it gets done".

"We will not have these discussions in public, but construction will go ahead". He said the government would "pursue legislative options" to "assert and reinforce jurisdiction in this matter".

"What is wonderful to me is that there's so much mythology that's part of the discourse - a lot of it coming from Rachel Notley, but some things are being parroted in the mainstream media analysis about what the various governments can or cannot do", said Lee, who is also co-director of the Climate Justice Project, a research partnership with the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning.

"Our objectives are to obtain certainty with respect to the ability to construct through B.C. and for the protection of our shareholders in order to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project", the company said in a statement.

Before Sunday's duelling news conferences were even complete, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was front and centre, accusing Trudeau of sitting on his hands for too long and frittering away investor confidence in Canada as a whole.

One thing that didn't happen, she said, was a promise or threat by Trudeau to withhold federal transfer payments to B.C.

"We continue to disagree on the question of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver", Horgan said following the meeting.