Environmentalists call Trudeau's decision to purchase Trans Mountain pipeline "appalling" and a "national disgrace"

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      B.C. environmental groups have responded to the Trudeau government's decision to purchase Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline system with swift condemnation. Meanwhile, pro-business groups have generally welcomed the news.

      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson described the deal as a threat to the city's environment and economy.

      "It’s appalling that the federal government is willing to spend over $4 billion of our tax dollars to buy a Texas oil company’s pipeline that massively increases climate pollution and puts tens of thousands of jobs and our coast at risk of oil spills," Robertson said quoted in a May 29 media release. "Those billions should be invested in clean renewable energy and creating many more permanent jobs with no risk to our economy or environment.”

      Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, argued the move will hamper Canada's efforts to address climate change.

      “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has just signed up to captain the Titanic of tar sands oil pipelines, putting it on a collision course with its commitments to Indigenous rights and the Paris climate agreement, he said in a statement. "Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built—a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics, and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.

      “The Indigenous-led, people-powered movement that led Kinder Morgan to abandon ship on this project is stronger than ever and will not back down," it continued.

      Protect the Inlet, an Indigenous initiative of Tsleil-Waututh members and their allies, described Ottawa's decision as a folly more significant than any one oil pipeline and laid the blame squarely on the prime minister.

      "This is the moment in history where Justin Trudeau has revealed that he never cared about Indigenous rights or reconciliation," said Will George, a Tsleil-Waututh member and spokesperson for Protect the Inlet, quoted in a May 29 media release.

      "We will never allow a pipeline to come through British Columbia and harm our Inlet,” said Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George quoted in the same release.

      Protect the Inlet has planned a demonstration for 5:30 p.m. today (May 29) in Vancouver at Creekside Park, next door to Science World at 1455 Quebec Street.

      The Liberal government's decision to purchase Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline system was announced in Ottawa this morning.

      Upon completion, the deal will see Kinder Morgan Canada, a subsidiary of the Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc., sell the Trans Mountain pipeline to a Crown corporation. It's tentatively scheduled to close before the end of August for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion

      The Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee described the development as a "national disgrace".

      “What a dark and shameful day for Canadians,” said Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Peter McCartney. “Our government is now using billions of taxpayer dollars to violate Indigenous rights, fuel climate change and put coastal communities at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.”

      The David Suzuki Foundation emphasized what the Liberal government's decision to purchase the pipeline system means for Canada's efforts to combat climate change.

      “Regardless of who builds it, the environmental, economic, climate and Indigenous rights risks remain the same,” David Suzuki Foundation CEO Steve Cornish said quoted in a media release. “We have an opportunity to diversify from fossil fuels into a clean energy economy, but this decision jeopardizes our success. It’s a risky time to spend public dollars on carbon-intensive energy when the rest of the world is prioritizing cleaner energy sources.”

      The foundation's science and policy director, Ian Bruce, argued there that the country's economy can thrive without the pipeline's expansion.

      “Canada can have a stronger future, but only if we transition into a just and sustainable clean energy economy together,” he said. “We need to invest in future generations of skilled workers, by modernizing our economy and seizing Canada’s unparalleled opportunity to be a global leader in renewable energy.”

      Metro Vancouver demonstrations against Kinder Morgan's plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline have attracted hundreds and sometimes even thousands of people.
      Rogue Collective

      Stand.Earth highlighted the role the deal will give Canada's government in harming the environment.

      “Today we found out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lied when he declared to the world he was a leader on climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples," said deputy director Tzeporah Berman. "Instead, he wants to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out a declining industry—ignoring the thousands who have pledged to block the pipeline and sidestepping more than a dozen outstanding legal challenges.

      From the other side of the debate on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, pro-business groups expressed support for Ottawa's decision, but also concern for the government deeming such a move is necessary.

      The B.C. Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), for example, described the decision as "extraordinary".

      "While the federal government's $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and its related infrastructure is an extraordinary measure, the B.C. Chamber is pleased to see the project move forward," reads a May 29 media release.

      "The extraordinary measures by the federal government prove that Canada's regulatory system needs an overhaul. Once a project is federally approved, it should not fall prey to stall tactics from opponents."

      The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) similarly expressed approval for the federal government's pending takeover of the project but criticized the situation that led to it.

      "It’s hard to imagine proponents of major infrastructure and responsible resource development projects taking any comfort from today’s announcement," said the organization's president, Chris Gardner. "Investment is fleeing Canada and commentators are saying ‘Canada is a laughing stock’—this will simply accelerate that capital flight, taking with it opportunity, talent and jobs for Canadians.”

      The deal that the Trudeau government has proposed has also attracted attention from south of the border.

      Rainforest Action Network, a San Francisco-based organization, issued the following statement attributed to its climate and energy campaigner, Ruth Breech.

      "The Trudeau government’s reckless choice to compel Trans Mountain endangers the lives and welfare of its citizens," she said. "Trans Mountain is the third major pipeline project to stall in two years because pipelines spell disaster. Kinder Morgan is a bad investment that no one doing their due diligence would touch."

      The Trans Mountain project involves twinning an oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton—where it receives diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands—to a port in Burnaby. Upon completion, it would triple the amount of bitumen transported to the Lower Mainland, increasing the number of oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet from some 60 ships per year to more than 400.

      Follow Travis Lupick on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.