Liberal cabinet ministers held an emergency meeting on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Tuesday, but have yet to reveal concrete plans on how they plan to move ahead with the divisive project.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi resorted to talking points following the meeting in Ottawa, which was unusually held during the MPs two-week break from the House of Commons.
“The government is 100 per cent behind this pipeline,” Carr said, adding they’re looking at “many options” on how to continue with plans for the Alberta-to-B.C. expansion project.
A number of ministers – including Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett – fled reporters following the emergency meeting. Her department earlier told APTN News that the issues in B.C over the pipeline were the responsibility of Natural Resources not Indigenous-Crown Relations.
It’s unclear whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is united on the pipeline expansion.
The pipeline builder, Kinder Morgan, announced it was scaling back on the federally approved $7.4-billion project because of opposition and delays from the B.C. government.
Ottawa approved the line in November 2016 but since then the project has faced court challenges and permit delays in B.C.
Premier John Horgan has said the province is worried about the consequences of oil spills and the threat to the coastline.
Kinder Morgan has given the federal government until May 31 for concrete assurance the line will get built, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told APTN the focus on inter-jurisdictional squabbles does not reflect the concerns of Indigenous peoples.
“They’ve continuously paid lip service to support the construction of the ill-conceived, ill-fated Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project,” he said.
Almost 200 protesters have been arrested for violating a court injunction aimed at preventing anti-pipeline activists from halting Kinder Morgan’s construction in Burnaby.
– with files from The Canadian Press