The Trudeau government is willing to financially underwrite Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion to create jobs and overrule Indigenous opposition.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the “extraordinary” move in Ottawa Wednesday morning.
“We see this project as being in the national interest,” Morneau told reporters.
He said Kinder Morgan, which set a May 31 deadline to decide whether to twin its existing pipeline in Alberta and B.C., faced “exceptional” opposition that called for this kind of political backup.
So his government was stepping up with taxpayer dollars, Morneau said, to help create 15,000 jobs. He called the investment “financially responsible.”
The pipeline project has federal and provincial approvals but continues to be challenged on the ground in B.C. and in the courts.
Several First Nations have filed legal challenges and environmental groups are galvanizing supporters.
But Morneau said the federal government had jurisdiction and was confident enough to put money on the table.
“I’ve been pretty clear what Premier (John) Horgan has done is unconstitutional,” Morneau said of the B.C. premier’s continuing challenges.
“We’re here today to say this is provincially and federally approved.”
Morneau noted Trans-Mountain wasn’t a done deal. He said discussions with the Texas-based company were continuing and could still fall through.
But he said the deal was on the table for “other actors” who may want to build a pipeline and create jobs.
“We’ve got their back,” he added.
And Morneau didn’t rule out the government possibly taking an “equity stake” in the project.