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On Trans Mountain, Trudeau chose the least awful of his political options

The collapse of the Trans Mountain pipeline project would have been a significant setback for one of Canada's foundational industries. Its loss would encourage the promoters of Western resentment and inspire a new round of anguished questions about the federation's ability to function.

The risks are profound. For the prime minister, the alternative was worse.

Aaron Wherry · CBC News · Posted: May 30, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours

It could be worse for Justin Trudeau. He could be not buying a pipeline.

The collapse of the Trans Mountain pipeline project — which we assume is what would have happened without a deal this week — would have been a significant setback for one of Canada's most significant industries, a setback that would be measured in dollars and jobs.

The loss would have encouraged the promoters of Western resentment while inspiring a new round of anguished questions about the federation's ability to function. Meanwhile, the Liberals have tied their climate plan to a concurrent commitment to get oil to tidewater.

In 2013, Trudeau went to Calgary and declared that getting Canadian resources to market was a "fundamental role of the government of Canada." The failure of Trans Mountain would have weighed heavily against him — not least because Trudeau was supposed to succeed in building a pipeline where Stephen Harper had failed.

As Harper himself said in 2009 when his government put $7 billion into two auto manufacturers, "the alternative to what we're doing today would be vastly more costly and more risky."

That might have been an easier deal to justify — the Americans were doing it too, the global economy had gone wobbly and oil executives weren't involved. But the same problem confronts Trudeau now that confronted Harper then: the likely alternative is terrible. 

'When it's in Canadians' advantage to know them...then of course that's going to be fully transparent,' says Bill Morneau. 8:23

Trudeau's purchase could very well pay off. The Liberals could find a new buyer in relatively short order. Regardless, construction should be able to proceed. Someday, the federal government might be able to flip the pipeline at a profit.

A year from now, Trudeau might be able to say he is getting something done (though the achievement will be tempered by the fact that it took public funds to do so). And voters beyond Alberta might appreciate the economic security.

But buying a pipeline is still only somewhat less painful than not buying it.

'A sad day for taxpayers'

Those environmentalists and Indigenous groups who don't support the project now have new reasons to be upset. Quebec politicians are grumbling about provincial rights. And the funding directed toward this transaction will now be invoked as a point of comparison whenever anyone wants to lament that the government is not spending more in some other area.

In the Commons Tuesday afternoon, the NDP's Nathan Cullen compared the money being spent on the pipeline to the $3.2 billion it would cost to "provide safe drinking water for every kid living on reserve in this country" — as if this was a zero-sum choice between funding one or the other.

Legal challenges remain to be settled. British Columbia's court reference will still be heard. And some people will put themselves in the way of construction and invite the authorities to arrest them.

Consevative Leader Andrew Scheer criticizes the governments decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. 0:53

Barring a quick sale, the federal government must manage a pipeline. Failure on the Trans Mountain expansion now would come at some direct cost to the government. And for as long as the government owns the project, there will be no space between the national interest and what was a private initiative.

"Giving $4.5 billion to a Texas oil company is a failure of leadership that shows that Prime Minister Trudeau has no vision for the future," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday, tearing into Trudeau for not directing the sum at clean energy sources.

"This is an extremely sad day for Canadian taxpayers," said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. He's upset that the money is being spent at all. "The prime minister is forcing them to fix his failure on Canada's energy sector. It didn't have to be this way."

For Trudeau, none of this is ideal — though he seems at least to have rebutted the Conservative claim that he does not genuinely support the oil and gas sector.Politics News

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says the decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline will go down in history as one of Canada's greatest epic, economical boondoggles. 1:13

The cost of keeping Trudeau's hope alive

Scheer's argument is that the government could have moved faster to settle the uncertainty created by British Columbia Premier John Horgan's musings about provincial jurisdiction. In that alternate history, the federal government would have asserted its jurisdiction somehow while making a reference to the Supreme Court.

But that still would have invited some risk. It's also not obvious that it would have returned a ruling before Kinder Morgan's May 31 deadline, or that it would have appeased the company (the Senate reference, for example, took 14 months to conclude).

Alternatively, the Conservatives say something should have been done to save the Northern Gateway or Energy East projects — but neither of those projects enjoyed widespread political support either.

But if you're interested in the view from hindsight, you could go back decades to consider the unresolved questions about climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and resource development that have brought us to this point. Perhaps it was inevitable that there was going to be a price to pay someday.

Trudeau's idea was that all those goals could be pursued together, with some general consensus: a price on carbon could be implemented, a pipeline could be built and Canada could begin to repair its relationship with Indigenous peoples. Maybe not everyone would agree with all of it. But maybe enough people could find something in the plan to support.

The alternative might be a government that chooses between pricing carbon and building a pipeline.

But the cost of keeping Trudeau's hope alive can now be measured in billions of dollars. And the Trudeau government's credibility is even more deeply invested in this project now.

The federal government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5B has sparked fierce debate, but it’s worth pointing out there’s a long tradition of government financial support in the energy sector. No investment will ever be risk-free, but if the past is any indication, it's proven rewarding. 2:06

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Trans Mountain is a stick right in the eye of the Liberals' own people

Justin Trudeau is going to take hell on all sides for doing what is right and necessary

Jen Gerson · CBC News · Posted: May 30, 2018 4:58 PM MT | Last Updated: 22 minutes ago
A protester holds a photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau covered in oil during a protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Vancouver on Tuesday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)



So, I guess Kinder Morgan wasn't bluffing.

Remember that, only a lifetime and two weeks ago, Finance Minister Bill Morneau seemed downright plummy after announcing his plan to indemnify Kinder Morgan against any losses incurred on the Trans Mountain pipeline.

"We think plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project, especially knowing that the federal government believes it is in the best interests of Canadians and is willing to provide indemnity to make sure it gets built," he told media at the time.

And then a key word edged its way into the discourse: "bluff."

An anonymous senior government official told Maclean's that the indemnity was a way for Ottawa to avoid being cornered by Kinder Morgan into forking over taxpayer dollars to get the line built.

Volatility and threats

After kiboshing Northern Gateway, and watching silently as Energy East withered, the federal government had spent enormous political capital on Trans Mountain.

Approved by the NEB, Trans Mountain is a mere twinning of an existing line that has operated for decades. This was supposed to be the easy win. Trans Mountain would improve the capacity problems that are forcing Canada to sell its oil at a steep discount to the U.S. — a reality that is costing the country an estimated $15.6 billion a year.

But pipelines, now, are more volatile than the liquids they carry.

They have become a subject of passionate resentment and ecstatic dislike. After B.C. made iffy legal threats in a bid to stall Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan clearly decided that this kind of religiosity was bad for business. The company announced that it would pull out of the line by May 31 if it could not receive political and legal certainty.

As it turns out, the Liberals were not the brilliant negotiators they imagined themselves to be. Only days ahead of the company deadline, the federal government announced it would buy the existing line outright at a cost of $4.5 billion — with hopes that other investors will step forward to purchase the pipe again once the political and legal heat dies down. The actual cost of constructing the twin is expected to weigh on taxpayers to the tune of $7.4 billion.

Just about everyone will find a reason to hate this solution.

Dredging sympathy

Some blame should be allotted, here, to the previous Conservative government. But I'm dredging my sympathy for the Liberals from a very shallow pond.

It was the Liberals who championed notions of "social licence" for pipeline construction — a term that has no objective meaning, and can provide no legal or regulatory certainty. It was the Liberals who lent credence to the growing paranoia about pipelines by cancelling Northern Gateway. It was the Liberals who helped to undermine public trust in the National Energy Board — the regulatory body that approved these projects. They've since revamped the NEB altogether.

Then the Liberals did nothing for months while a trade war between Alberta and B.C. festered.

It's perfectly commendable for a citizen or a concerned group to protest a pipeline if they disagree with it; it's fair to point out problems at the NEB, or to demand a clear response to marine crises or pipeline leaks. I grew up in B.C. My heart is there, too.

But, at a certain point, these concerns ceased to be reasonable. They became part of a well-organized and very intelligent strategy to choke Alberta's petrochemical industry based on the belief that there is something uniquely pernicious about the oil it's producing.

I have no particular objections to citizens or advocacy groups engaging in these tactics. But for a party to be scoring points with this kind of a game always risks a dramatic reversal. Winning points by undermining faith in democratic institutions — like regulatory agencies — is keeping with the spirit of the age. No institution is perfect, or above reproach or reform, but if you knock down too many pillars, eventually the roof caves in on you, too.

The Liberals now have to rebuild the house. Buying the pipeline was the only play left. It was in the nation's financial interest, but it's also an unapologetic display of federal power and an assertion of confidence in Ottawa's jurisdictional authority. And the Liberals are going to piss off almost everyone by doing it.

A stick in the eye

Nationalizing the pipeline will thwart B.C. and her environmentalists by undermining their stall tactics. This is a stick right in the eye of the Liberals' own people.

Meanwhile, Conservatives will be rightly horrified at the tax dollars put to work to compensate for political failures.

I'm not even sure it's going to win any Albertans over. For generations, this province has defined itself by its opposition to Ottawa generally and the Liberals specifically. It's an ancient human habit to spit into the open palm of an enemy. Nothing engenders resentment more than dependence.

Justin Trudeau is going to take hell on all sides for doing what is right and necessary. He will gain nothing by this for his party. The Liberals will probably lose seats in B.C. that they can never hope to make up in Alberta.Finance Minister Bill Morneau for using public money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline. (Mike Symington/CBC)


Yet by committing to this pipeline, he's acknowledging Alberta's interests; it is a long-awaited motion of appreciation for the needs of this province and the wealth it brings into a properly functioning Confederation.

This pipeline is going to get built, and that's a victory for Rachel Notley, as well. I am not convinced that this province would have received this kind of support from Ottawa if she hadn't committed to a forward-thinking climate change strategy when she was elected in 2015.

More importantly, Trans Mountain ought to shatter a pattern of enmity by which Albertans have come to define themselves vis a vis the rest of Canada; we are the perpetual suckers of Confederation. Our share of taxes on our high incomes hoovered up and then parcelled out via equalization payments to red ridings in Central Canada. Billions to buddies at Bombardier while the patch suffocated. The National Energy Program ad infinitum.

On Wednesday, Morneau visited Calgary bearing kind words.

"We do want to support the oil and gas sector, and there will be those of you who wonder how much we'll support that sector," he said. "And when you have that question, I want you to think back to yesterday. And that's the example of how strongly we'll support the sector."

Perhaps that, too, was no bluff.

This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as we build the city we want — the city we need. It's the place for possibilities. A marketplace of ideas. So. Have an idea? Email us at:





Jen Gerson


Jen Gerson is a freelance journalist based in Calgary.

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4 minutes ago, Malcolm said:

Trans Mountain is a mere twinning of an existing line that has operated for decades.

.....and not a lot of people in BC know this.

Hell, a lot of people in Edmonton do not know where the pipeline runs.

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Stop letting the tail wag the dog and build the damned thing.


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12 hours ago, Fido said:

.....and not a lot of people in BC know this.

Hell, a lot of people in Edmonton do not know where the pipeline runs.

yep and for all that 4.5 billion all we got was the current infrastructure.  We(WE) still have to build it and pay for the construction.


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Morneau touts pipeline in Calgary

  • Calgary Herald
  • 31 May 2018
getimage.aspx?regionKey=TOA7uq6cppAdrqsZxRDJag%3d%3dJEFF MCINTOSH Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, “we’ve got to get the (Trans Mountain) project done.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau had two telling exchanges Wednesday at a Calgary luncheon to tout the federal government’s historic decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.

One moment occurred when he bumped into entrepreneur Brett Wilson in the middle of the Big Four Building just before a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce; the other came after two protesters interrupted his address.

The two episodes captured the conflicting sentiments surrounding Ottawa’s $4.5-billion acquisition this week of Trans Mountain to ensure the pipeline’s expansion is completed: optimism mixed with a sense of the difficulties ahead.

In the centre of Canada’s oilpatch, there is relief that progress is finally being made to resolve the country’s market access problems, but also a realization the project has several obstacles to clear, including more civil disobedience.

But for a city and industry still recalibrating from the pain of the oil price collapse in 2014, any confidence is welcome.

“For Calgary, this is a good day because we’ve got the promise of an ongoing fight to finish a pipeline. We don’t have a pipeline. The expansion is not built,” Wilson, a co-founder of FirstEnergy Capital and former Dragons’ Den investor, said before the speech.

“But it’s encouraging we finally have a step in the right direction. And if we can get an arena and a new convention centre, there’s a vibe in Calgary that says we’re ready, and we’re ready to play again.”

While Wilson was speaking, Morneau was winding his way through the crowd of more than 500 when he bumped into the Calgary businessman, who has been critical of the Trudeau government’s energy policies.

The talk immediately turned to pipelines.

“In the interest of national pride and unity, I think what we’re doing is the right thing,” Wilson told the finance minister.

Morneau responded with a message he repeated several times throughout the day: the pipeline will be built.

“This was not our first, best solution, obviously,” the minister replied to Wilson, the chairman of Canoe Capital.

“We’d rather it not have been this conclusion, but it’s the right conclusion given where we’re at, because we’ve got to get the project done.”

The right conclusion, as he called it, was Ottawa’s contentious decision to buy out Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which ships oil from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

The $7.4-billion expansion will triple the pipeline’s existing capacity, and help Alberta petroleum producers move oil to tidewater and, potentially, to export markets in Asia.

Morneau stressed he will look for a private sector buyer to acquire the project at some point, although it’s unclear how long that will take.

The investment decision was embraced by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, whose government has been lobbying to see the line built and is locked in a bitter struggle with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who wants the development stopped.

To make sure the project is finished, Alberta will provide up to $2 billion to act as a backstop, in the case of extraordinary circumstances, such as cost overruns.

With a lack of pipeline capacity costing Alberta an estimated $6.5 million a day in government revenues, it had to act.

During his speech, Morneau noted the last time he spoke in the city, he encountered a sense of anxiety surrounding the ability of Canada to get its natural resources to market.

It’s a worry, he said, the federal government shared, which was one of the factors behind Ottawa’s decision to buy the entire project.

As the new owner of a crude oil pipeline, Morneau also came face to face with one of the challenges Kinder Morgan has been grappling with daily: vocal, committed opponents who won’t give up.

Less than four minutes into his speech, the Toronto MP was interrupted by anti-pipeline protesters carrying banners that read: “No Bailout for Climate Crime!”

It is widely recognized that expanded market access is absolutely essential for the Canadian energy sector to get a full and competitive price value for our production.

Before being escorted out by security, one shouted at the minister: “This project will never happen,” triggering a chorus of boos from the business crowd.

“What we all realize is that hard things are hard, and we will continue to face challenges doing things that are going to make an enormous difference for our economy,” the minister replied.

His point isn’t lost on local business leaders who desperately want to see the project built, to help restore confidence that major energy infrastructure can be finished after the rapid-fire demise of the Energy East, Northern Gateway and the Pacific NorthWest LNG projects.

“It is widely recognized that expanded market access is absolutely essential for the Canadian energy sector to get a full and competitive price value for our production,” said Rich Kruger, CEO of Imperial Oil, one of the shippers on the Trans Mountain line.

The reality is, few oilpatch leaders like the idea of government intervention in a development that is clearly commercially viable.

For those in the Calgary business community, however, this was Ottawa’s only card to play.

Now, it’s time to move on and get a pipeline built.

“There was a mood that we’re having trouble attracting investment to Calgary, to Canada, because we can’t get anything done. We can’t build pipelines,” said Steve Allan, chairman of Calgary Economic Development.

“We have to demonstrate we can.”

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After years of setbacks, Canada takes ‘baby steps’


  • Calgary Herald
  • 1 Jun 2018
getimage.aspx?regionKey=dr3vNVuPuVD249jj4RNZ3g%3d%3dLNG CANADA Petronas has agreed to buy a 25 per cent share in the LNG Canada project.

After two years of retreat, the prospect of large-scale energy developments being built in Canada took a couple of steps forward within just 48 hours.

Ottawa’s decision to buy out the Trans Mountain oil pipeline project was followed by news Thursday that Petronas acquired a stake in the mammoth $40-billion LNG Canada project.

This comes just 10 months after Malaysia’s state-owned energy company shelved its own Pacific NorthWest LNG project off the coast of British Columbia.

To be clear, there is no certainty a liquefied natural gas facility or the Trans Mountain expansion will be built.

The fact Ottawa had to buy out a private company to try to ensure a federally approved pipeline is completed is also discouraging. But there’s no denying both projects gained a little momentum this week.

For an industry that’s struggled to see any progress in Canada on building significant new energy developments, even incremental progress is welcome.

“It is definitely a little bit of daylight,” said Ian Archer, associate director of North American natural gas for energy consultancy IHS Markit.

“We’ve made some baby steps.” On Thursday, Petronas agreed to buy a 25 per cent share in the LNG Canada project. Shell Canada owns 40 per cent of the development, with PetroChina, Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan and South Korea’s Kogas also holding stakes.

“Petronas is in Canada for the long-term and we are exploring a number of business opportunities that will allow us to increase our production … in the north Montney,” Petronas president Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said in a statement.

The partners have yet to make a final investment decision, which is expected to take place in the second half of 2018.

Several factors are pointing in the right direction. A massive global glut of LNG is being whittled away faster than expected, potentially opening the window for a major project to be built off Canada’s west coast.

And Western Canada boasts massive supplies of cheap natural gas from world-class plays such as the Montney.

If the project is approved, it’s expected the first LNG shipment would leave Canada in the 20232024 time frame.

It’s a sudden turnaround for Petronas, which paid $6 billion in 2012 to acquire Calgarybased producer Progress Energy Resources.

The Malaysian company had big expansion plans and was eyeing its own $36-billion LNG facility, but scrapped the project last summer citing “prolonged depressed prices and shifts in the energy industry.”

Today, hopes for a major liquefied natural gas facility in Canada rest on the shoulders of LNG Canada.

Pegged at $40 billion, the development would include a gas liquefaction plant and export facility located at Kitimat.

Jackie Forrest, senior director of research at ARC Energy Research Institute, notes if the Shell-led project goes ahead fully, it would consume the equivalent of 25 per cent of Western Canada’s existing production.

The news comes at a pivotal time for Canadian natural gas producers, who saw Alberta spot prices dip into negative territory last month and have been pummelled by transportation constraints.

Natural gas production hit 16.7 billion cubic feet per day in January, its highest point in a decade. However, gas exports to the United States have dropped by 26 per cent over the past decade, while American production has increased.

Building an LNG export facility would allow Canada to send some of its ample supplies of cheap gas into the Asian market.

“It’s important for Canada,” said Marty Proctor, CEO of Seven Generations Energy, one of the country’s largest gas producers.

“We all suffer from the fact we cannot get our products to other markets. We’re stuck with one customer — that customer gets a giant discount on what we have available — and this will be a nice step in the direction of improving pricing for the product.”

For Canadian gas producers, the decision by Petronas to join LNG Canada — bringing experience, customers and deep pockets to the table — is a hopeful sign the project will be sanctioned.

“It does provide some additional optimism to our industry,” said Andy Mah, CEO of Advantage Oil & Gas. “But there’s still a lot of work to do to bring foreign investment back to Canada.”

While he welcomed Thursday’s news, Peyto Exploration & Development CEO Darren Gee noted the industry and the country can’t afford to wait for six years to see gas markets improve.

A chart on his company’s website shows Alberta natural gas prices in March averaged US$1.18 per thousand cubic feet, compared with benchmark U.S. prices of $2.58, and Chinese LNG prices at $9.10.

“The discount we’re getting for our gas is way worse than what we’re getting for our oil,” he said.

For the hard-hit oilfield services sector, the prospect of a new oil pipeline or an LNG facility moving forward would be good news, potentially kick-starting sluggish exploration activity in the oilpatch.

But Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, isn’t so sure progress is being made in the broader push to build new energy infrastructure.

Getting an oil pipeline to tidewater would improve prices for Canadian oil, but will only come about with public-sector dollars having to buy out the Trans Mountain project.

LNG holds promise, but the B.C. government’s attitude toward such energy investment is a wild card.

“I don’t agree things are kind of lifting; I’d say we have maybe stopped the bleeding,” he said.

There’s still plenty of skepticism about Canada’s ability to get big energy projects done. This suspicion is well earned.

This week’s steps toward a new oil pipeline and LNG facility are incremental, part of a long journey. But every marathon requires thousands of steps. This week saw a few important ones taken in the right direction.

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from the following story the quote is:


Sarah Green joined the chanting while holding her one-year-old son.

“I just think it’s important to show that people of B.C. don’t want this pipeline,” she said. “And we especially don’t want to be paying for it. I think we made it really clear.”


and the massive turnout in Vancouver was 100.


In Vancouver, about 100 people attended the protest, holding signs saying “No consent, no pipeline” and “Not justifiable” and chanting “Keep it in the ground.”


June 4, 2018 6:34 pm

Trans mountain protesters close in on Liberal MP offices, McKenna says it’s time to move on

By Staff The Canadian Press
Global News at Noon: Rallies both for and against Trans Mountain pipeline held in Calgaryx

WATCH: Mon, Jun 4: Rallies both for and against the Trans Mountain pipeline took place in downtown Calgary Monday. Global’s Lisa MacGregor reports.


As opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protested across the country Monday, Canada’s environment minister said the project needs to move forward.

Protesters gathered outside the offices of Liberal MPs calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to pull its support for the controversial pipeline.

The rallies follow Ottawa’s announcement last week that it will spend $4.5 billion to buy the pipeline and ensure the expansion project is completed.

Rallies both for and against Trans Mountain pipeline held in Calgary

“The crazy buyout of this pipeline project has actually united people from the left and the right,” said Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, who led the rally outside Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s office in Vancouver.

Jolan Bailey, a campaigner with advocacy group LeadNow, said more than 100 events were held in cities across the country, including Calgary, Regina, Toronto and Halifax.

A rally in Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s riding of Ottawa-Centre drew more than 100 people, Bailey said.

“There are a lot of people that are frustrated with a government that campaigned on making climate action a priority, but now has not only approved a pipeline … but (Trudeau) is actually using our taxpayer dollars now to pay for the project,” he said. 
Outside the House of Commons on Monday, McKenna reiterated her government’s support for the pipeline expansion and said it’s time to move on.

“A decision was made, as I say, by the federal government over a year ago. Also by the former government of British Columbia. We need to provide certainty to investors and we also need to bring people together,” she said.

“The environment and the economy go together and this project will go ahead.”

In Vancouver, about 100 people attended the protest, holding signs saying “No consent, no pipeline” and “Not justifiable” and chanting “Keep it in the ground.”

“I just think it’s important to show that people of B.C. don’t want this pipeline,” she said. “And we especially don’t want to be paying for it. I think we made it really clear.”

Green’s father, Bill Bargemen, said he came to the rally because he’s concerned about the impact the pipeline could have on his grandson’s future.

“This little guy may well live into the next century and I’m really terrified about what that’s going to look like if we don’t come to grips with climate change,” Bargemen said.

READ MORE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit Kinder Morgan terminal near Edmonton

Opponents are attacking the project on a number of fronts and that will continue until the project is shelved, Bargemen said.

“It’s going to be done in the courts, it’s going to be done in the streets, it’s going to be done at the ballot boxes, it’s going to be done when people are willing to go to jail and they’re doing that,” he said. “This is the line in the sand. We have to take this stand now.”

Dozens of people have been arrested outside Kinder Morgan’s facilities in Burnaby, B.C., in recent months, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, who both pleaded guilty to breaking a court injunction barring protests near Trans Mountain worksites.

In Parliament on Monday, opposition members attacked the Liberal government over news that two executives for Kinder Morgan will each be given $1.5-million retention bonuses to ensure they stay on as the Trans Mountain pipeline system is sold to the federal government.

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·        Why Trudeau and his Liberals are now the targets that Kinder Morgan once was

"There never should have been the need for the buyout. It is a crazy outcome to a crazy situation."

'There never should have been the need for the buyout. It is a crazy outcome to a crazy situation.'



Rex Murphy · CBC News · Posted: Jun 06, 2018 5:00 AM MT | Last Updated: 2 hours ago

With all the recent drama over the Trans Mountain pipeline, Rex Murphy says it's strange that it took so long for things to get to this point. (Kinder Morgan, CBC, Ben Nelms/Reuters)


From within the endless scroll of the Twitterfeed, its glitter and gutter, one particular tweet called me to a halt. It was from Catherine McKenna, the climate change minister, and was posted hours after the Americans put a tariff on Canadian steel. The minister is nothing if not quick. The tweet chirped:Rather than dance around, let's go with the obvious question right away.When was the last time the minister had a tweet about oilpatch jobs? Where was that swift digit hitting the Twitter highway following the various, deep hits to the oil industry, which has been under so many guns — prices, protests and pipelines — for so many years. Suddenly the minister for climate change has a word about jobs.

But during the long, long buildup to the pipeline crisis — which now has provinces ranged against each other, Alberta under strict environmental watch, civil disobedience threats, and tensions ignited with the whole of Confederation — were the minister and her colleagues in the federal government "standing up" for Alberta oil workers, just as now she is for those in her home riding?

It brings me to ask, what does it take to acknowledge a crisis?

If it's in Ontario, a matter of hours. If it's in Alberta, years.

The crisis in Alberta jobs has been present for years and the various forces blocking Alberta energy have been active, present and urgent for the same period.

But it took the desperate measure of Kinder Morgan setting a deadline to abandon the project for good before either the federal government or the national press wrapped their busy minds around Alberta's dilemma.

A building crisis

Ever since Kinder Morgan — driven to the end of its tether by years of obstruction, endless hearings and regulations, tepid support (if any) from politicians outside Alberta, and harassed and misrepresented continuously by the professional anti-oil monomaniacs — set the deadline of May 31 for a decision on continuing its effort to stay with the project, debate and confrontation has been furious.

It is more than strange that it took so long to get to this point.

For until the deadline — at least outside Alberta — the national press and national politicians were casual, sporadic and fundamentally not serious in their attention or coverage. Yet over, at a minimum, the past two years at least, the crisis could be seen building, almost on a daily basis.

It's useful to review the atmospherics that led up to the last week of May and the flurry of concern that suddenly manifested itself. It is easily recalled when Energy East was cancelled and the little attention that received. 

Twisting of the garrote

Here was a genuinely all-new project destined to bring Western oil to the Canadian East Coast, and end the embarrassment of feeding Eastern Canada from suppliers as far afield as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. It was as much a national project as Kinder Morgan's is insisted to be.

Yet when it went by the wayside there was hardly a peep. Thirty-two MPs in the Atlantic caucus and hardly a mutter, a raised hand to ask, "Why are we doing this?"

Likewise with Trudeau's off-hand fiat on Northern Gateway. Another pipeline cancelled. No big deal. Just the usual blather from the federal leadership, the usual self-congratulation: save the environment, leaders on climate change, and all that. Much the same with the ban on any new West Coast tankers. This dropped into the news line with the mildest of mild thuds, though it meant another twisting of the garrote around export of Alberta's No. 1 resource.Under the tiresome mantra of "the environment and the economy go hand in hand," these decisions dropped on the province of Alberta as if they were free of consequence, idle of impact, whereas each was one more turn of the screw, one more step toward a total blockade of Alberta's economic potential. Each one, too, fed the increasingly justifiable opinion, inside the province and outside, that despite the "hand in hard" rhetoric in progressive Trudeau's Ottawa, the crusade for global warming was always the priority, and the oil economy, at best, a second-thought obstruction to that overwhelming cause.

Add to that the charade of the "social licence" deal.

Villainous Alberta remember:

If Alberta tightened environmental protections, imposed a tax on its main industry, genuflected to the global warming crusade, then — maybe, possibly — the province would be "allowed" to obtain "permission" to get its oil to markets other than the United States.The Alberta government genuflected to social licence, brought in the carbon tax — and two years later social licence is a dead phrase. It's been disappeared. With each project cancelled, or hurdle erected, the enviro consortia tasted fresh ecstasy. Any choice that hamstrung the oil industry and villainous Alberta raised a cheer from Sierra, Suzuki and Greenpeace. But, when all this was going on, aside from a few tepid responses, a scattered warning that shutting down all outward access from Alberta might, at some point, prove a problem, might stir things up between B.C. and Alberta, might even provoke something of a national contention, it was background noise to most of the press and the political class.What reasoning there was, and there was little, comforted itself with the easy hope that because there was still one pipeline left, and that a mere twinning of the one in place since 1953(!), all would be well, and all manner of things would be well. And that one would be a kind of door prize, or Miss Congeniality award, for the tranquil acceptance of having killed off all the others.Not to worry was the mindset; there's always Kinder Morgan.Creating an exclusive focusWhat government didn't see, or more precisely didn't care to see, was that having diminished the options from many to one, having virtuously shut down Energy East (by new regulations) and Northern Gateway, and putting a ban on tankers, Kinder Morgan was the only project left on the board.It exposed that pipeline to being the exclusive focus of the entire anti-oil, anti-Alberta movement. The anti-oil monomaniacs could turn all their protest and activism to a single focus, a specific target. They were now free to make the Trans Mountain pipeline the singular target, the very symbol, of the whole climate change forces, inside Canada and beyond. And they did.

In British Columbia, during the run-up to the election, John Horgan was going about promising "to use every tool in our tool box to stop the project from going ahead" and, even more tellingly, in signing the accord with the Green Party's John Weaver, pledged "to immediately employ every tool available to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline."The anti-oil forces were only too happy to have the field of fire brought to a single point. Likewise, those Indigenous groups who were against K-M and the mayor of Burnaby relished the opportunity to concentrate their fire. It is crucial to note that during all this period, from the time before the cancellations of the other pipeline projects to the period of the B.C. election, during the run of anti-pipeline propaganda, the federal government and its leader, the prime minister, were nowhere to be seen or heard. There was, of course, the statement: often repeated but passionless and tepid in its every iteration: "The government has approved Kinder Morgan, and it is in the national interest." Never did the federal government actually make the case, articulate that great national interest, seek to counter the mounting protests and objections. It was all very much business as usual for Mr. Trudeau and Ms. McKenna, the climate duo.  Even before Horgan and Weaver became the ultimate arbiters of pipeline construction, there was a long, expensive, frustrating six years when Kinder Morgan went through the "process" — the NEB hearings, protests, amendments to approval, additional conditions, and the vast spate of consultations with the Indigenous communities along the route.

The pre-costs to construction during this same period were over a billion dollars.

The ultimate shock was the new Green-NDP government revoking the previous B.C. government's approval of Kinder Morgan. And then it adopted pure activist language against it. The B.C. government's position on the pipeline was and is indistinguishable from Greenpeace's or David Suzuki's. All of which is how we got to the last week of May, the crisis, the press conference, the buyout. In the title words of a Leap movement leader, everything had changed.

A national project

Suddenly the national politicians actually "saw" the problem they had mindlessly been coasting through up to that point. The prime minister interrupted a 10-day odyssey outside Canada to come back for an afternoon summit to meet with premiers Notley and Horgan. Finance Minister Morneau leaped to announce that, should Kinder Morgan step away, the federal government would backstop the project; if they should stay, he would "indemnify" the company for any losses due to "politically" inspired delays.The federal government suddenly adopted the rhetoric of the pipeline as "a national project." Oh yes, Trans Mountain would be built; it had to be built. They were really serious now.

All of which is rather weird.

For six years, a private company has been virtually begging to build this pipeline. For six years, Alberta has been asking for access to markets other than the United States. Capital has been fleeing the province. Canada's reputation as a country in which major projects could proceed in orderly fashion, with responsible environmental and regulatory overview, has day by day been degraded.

The promise of jobs the project would create was known. The lift to the Alberta economy and national economy was obvious. But Kinder Morgan's deadline was the earthquake that exposed the federal government to the political consequences of allowing the pipeline to fail.

The grand climax

So this is how we got to the grand climax of last week.

Finance Minister Morneau's last minute leap to the barricades to announce that the federal government itself was/is going to buy out the company to "save" the pipeline.

That announcement has to be one of the strangest, most outlandish and staggering initiatives ever launched. Also, and this is key, one of the most unnecessary.

Why? Well consider just the basic elements of the whole affair.

A private company six or so years ago eagerly set out to twin its own pipeline. It was operating on its own money. Such was its commitment to the project that it endured the immense hassles already recounted.'During this same time, the federal authorities remained silent and, with the arrival of the Trudeau government, tellingly indifferent to the company's and Alberta's plights.

Yet, the company persisted, its desire to build withstanding all the negative propaganda, the court cases, the re-hearings, and exhausting consultation process, and the carbon tax, and even the B.C. government's cancellation of the approval a previous B.C. government had given.

Finally, however, even Kinder Morgan, through its shareholders, said: This is crazy. We're paying to build this, we are assured it's a national project, it will provide huge employment for Canadians, give it international credibility on energy projects — and yet everywhere we turn there has been an obstacle, a delay, a challenge and a protest — and simultaneously no support, or at best indifference, from Canada's government.

And so they asked: Stop playing with this. Give us a yes or a no we can rely on, or we're out.

Then, and only then, it became a paramount concern of the Liberal government that the pipeline had to be saved, even if it meant using taxpayer money of nearly $5 billion to take on the project, itself.

None of this would have been necessary if the determination of the past month had been present during the long period that brought the crisis on in the first place. The federal government, by its silence and inaction, by its signaling that "climate change" was its near exclusive priority, had singularly empowered the various opposition to the project that drove Kinder Morgan to the deadline.

Now the government harvests its own mistake, with $5 billion to buy out the project it failed to support. There never should have been the need for the buyout. It is a crazy outcome to a crazy situation.

Finally, to pile irony on irony, the purchase of Kinder Morgan effectively does nothing — nothing — to change the central dynamic at play here: whether a climate change government will face down the climate change activists who have pledged in public to do all they can, and everyone knows what that means, to stop construction.

A new target

Will this government, really, stand up to the protesters? Will it have the fortitude to take on the very groups, that in their messaging on climate change, is actually a mirror of the federal government's own messaging?

There is no ground for optimism here.

Mr. Trudeau and his Liberals are now the targets that Kinder Morgan was.

If anything, this will only intensify the eco-opposition. We have a climate change government facing down a climate change opposition. This has much to contribute to the national sense of humour.

But it's a very feeble reed on which to build confidence that this much-promised pipeline is any closer than it was to actually being built than it ever has been.


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It’s Suzuki’s endless ego that’s overblown


  • Calgary Herald
  • 7 Jun 2018

Hopefully, some kind soul can transcribe this column into braille.

Because, according to the old lad who’s getting his paws on a now-infamous honorary degree up the road in Edmonton this morning, that’s the only chance many of you knuckledraggers will get to read this veritable epic.

Yep, according to our good buddy David Suzuki — who must be exhausted today, if indeed he cycled or ran across the Rockies from the West Coast to the University of Alberta to avoid leaving a big carbon footprint — we in Wild Rose land are among the sightless.

To quote from one of his recent online ponderings, this is a province “where many people are blind to the realities of global warming and have an overblown sense of the oil industry’s relative, and declining, importance.”

Well, when it comes to an overblown sense of importance, we’re privileged to be observing greatness itself, when the podium belongs to none other than Suzuki.

Our most well-known, and thereby wellrewarded eco-warrior, finishes off with a suitable call to action. It’s not quite up there with pledging to keep the red flag flying high, but then again, I suspect Suzuki would be on the other, more well-fed side of any real barricade if push did indeed come to societal shove one dark, future day.

Of course, the cry to arms concerns the latest rather bizarre bauble of federal financing, the soon-to-be nationalized Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project that someday over the rainbow, might transport more heavy crude from northern Alberta, all the way to the Pacific and onward to energy-hungry Asia.

“We must stand together against the Kinder Morgan pipeline project and all fossil fuel

That’s where Suzuki’s prosaic scribblings ended.

expansion. We have better ways to create jobs and economic opportunity,” is how he framed it.

But sadly, for the future of Canada, that’s where Suzuki’s prosaic scribblings ended.

Which isn’t entirely a surprise, because that’s where most arguments and protestations against the energy industry in this country come to a grinding halt.

Because if Canada’s energy industry is indeed overblown in importance and is slipping into irrelevancy, then that would come as a surprise to the smart folk over at Statistics Canada, who dutifully collect all those dull, dry numbers on such topics as employment, tax revenues, exports and nominal GDP.

(Incidentally, perhaps Suzuki’s dire warnings have already had an effect on Suncor, considering several of its Petro-Canada gas stations have yet again managed the seemingly impossible in energy-rich Alberta by running out of fuel.)

But returning to those dry old numbers. In 2016, which was not exactly a stand-out year in the oilpatch, Canada’s energy industry represented almost 10 per cent of nominal GDP, worth a massive $187 billion, which included about $85 billion in exports.

This same industry resulted in 127,000 direct jobs, with a further 600,000 people employed indirectly. It also provided about $13 billion in direct taxes — the largest amount collected from any segment of the Canadian economy.

In fact, if we look at the period from 2011 to 2015, then the energy industry brought in 12 per cent of all government of Canada operating revenues.

Meanwhile, us blind and daft Albertans pay $21 billion more to Ottawa in taxes each year than we get back in federal funding. That’s 17 per cent of all such federal revenue, despite having only 11 per cent of the population.

But, according to Suzuki and his fellow travellers, that’s irrelevant. Yet all the social programs we enjoy, the old age pensions, the first-rate infrastructure, and yes, even the CBC, comes out of that big pot of funding stew in which the energy industry provides the most ingredients.

Maybe those hearing his acceptance speech this morning in Edmonton might learn how these irrelevant revenues and jobs will be replaced in Suzuki’s brave green new world.

But then again, perhaps he won’t let us in on that. It seems to be the nature of things.

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End users more to blame for emissions than producers, says Richard Neufeld.

  • Vancouver Sun
  • 9 Jun 2018
  • Richard Neufeld is a senator for British Columbia.
getimage.aspx?regionKey=mCX9Xco3sYz5DhxG40YReg%3d%3dMARK RALSTON/GETTY IMAGES Workers use heavy machinery in the tailings pond at the Syncrude oilsands extraction facility near Fort McMurray. More than 80 per cent of the energy consumed globally comes from fossil fuels, a number that has changed little in 30 years.

The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources released its fourth of five interim reports last month as part of its ongoing study on Canada’s transition to a lower-carbon economy. The report focuses on Canada’s oil-and-gas sector. Our committee wants to find out how, and at what cost, the industry can reduce its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions while remaining competitive, stimulating our economy and providing goodpaying, family-supporting jobs.

The oil-and-gas sector represents 7.7 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product and is worth $142 billion. It directly and indirectly employs 700,000 Canadians. However, according to Canada’s 2015 emissions profile, the upstream oil-and-gas sector (extraction and production) was responsible for 168 megatons of GHG emissions, which represented 23 per cent of our overall emissions. Government projections indicate the sector will emit 175 megatons in 2020 and 193 in 2030.

For accounting purposes, the government has divided Canada’s emissions profile into six sectors. About threequarters of our emissions are attributed to other spheres of our economy beyond the oil-and-gas sector, including transportation, electricity, buildings and agriculture. Obviously, these sectors rely heavily on fossil fuels to exist. For example, some Canadian jurisdictions burn coal to produce electricity or use diesel generators, most people drive cars powered by gasoline or diesel, many commercial and residential buildings heat their homes with natural gas. Emission-intensive, tradeexposed industries (cement, aluminum, petrochemical producers) rely on fossil fuels for their feedstock to produce high-quality products.

But as our committee’s report suggests, “if the global community achieves its Paris Agreement targets, overall demand for oil and gas commodities will decrease.” The key word here is “if.” Two years into this study, I am not convinced Canada (or the world for that matter) will achieve its climate-change goals. The reality is the world continues to consume fossil fuels at a growing rate. Renewable alternatives have been making some breakthroughs into the market, but at a pace that barely makes a dent in the overall demand for fossil fuels.

As Peter Tertzakian recently wrote, “the percentage of fossil fuels in the world’s energy mix — coal, oil and natural gas — is still lingering well above 80 per cent, a figure that has changed little in 30 years. … We’re in an era of energy diversification, where alternative sources to fossil fuels, notably renewables, are growing alongside — not at the expense of — the incumbents.”

In light of this reality, as our report submits, “Canada’s oil-and-gas industry faces challenges to cost-effectively reduce emissions while retaining and competing for market share in a carbonconstrained world.”

So what is Canada to do about its rich and vast oil and natural gas plays? Some environmental activists would suggest to keep it all in the ground. That Canada should, for the greater good of humanity, opt out from developing these resources and forgo billions of dollars in tax revenues and royalties.

In fact, when you consider our emissions profile, we could almost achieve our 2030 Paris Agreement targets by completely shutting down our oil-and-gas sector. While this outcome would have David Suzuki performing cartwheels and activists claiming victory, I can assure you that this scenario is short-sighted, unrealistic and practically unachievable, unless we are wiling to completely destroy our economy and way of life as we know it today.

Many people fail to understand that producing and upgrading the average crude oil represents a small portion of overall GHG emissions when considering a well-to-combustion scenario. According to ARC Financial, using the average crude oil refined in the United States for example, “on average, the upstream activities that a producer of crude oil is responsible for constitute 11.6 per cent of all the well-tocombustion emissions.” More than 80 per cent of emissions take place at combustion.

In other words, emissions from the extraction and production of oil and gas accounts for a fraction of the total GHGs attributed to the average barrel of oil.

What does that mean in practical terms?

It means that Fred and Martha, your everyday Canadians, are ultimately responsible for a considerable portion of emissions from fossil fuels when they drive their cars to work, heat their homes or hop on a plane.

In most Canadian jurisdictions, including the territories, turning on the lights, watching television, charging electronic devices, could also result in direct emissions.

Once more, the energy end-user is responsible for those emissions and yet we are often quick to point the finger at the oil-and-gas industry for being the major culprit when in fact, we are.

Further, I think it’s important to remind Canadians that only about half of the 97 million barrels of oil used every day around the world is for road-transportation fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. What is more, some 6,000 everyday products are made from petroleum, from soap, to eyeglasses and sports equipment and pharmaceuticals.

In light of this reality, Canada has a huge challenge to overcome if it wants to get anywhere close to meetings its GHG targets. Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is not an option.

While options to displace fossil fuels exist in many areas, such as electric vehicles and renewable feedstock in the production of plastics for example, the bottom line is that the use of fossil fuels will continue to be widespread until alternatives are affordable, scalable, equitable and both practically and realistically achievable.

Renewable alternatives have been making some breakthroughs into the market, but at a pace that barely makes a dent in the overall demand for fossil fuels.


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Trump offers Best Argument for A National pipeline


  • Calgary Herald
  • 15 Jun 2018
  • DON BRAID Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald Twitter: @DonBraid Facebook: Don Braid Politics
getimage.aspx?regionKey=fIoR5oX2qoOPmWRLKcu2Ow%3d%3dChrystia Freeland

U.S. President Donald Trump showed last weekend that we need to rethink every single arrangement that involves our neighbour.

America may not for long be a reliable supplier or buyer of anything. America may not even be our ally.

One of Canada’s great economic vulnerabilities is the volume of oil imported to the east coast and along the Saint Lawrence Seaway — 700,000 barrels a day, more than half of it from the U.S.

That often surprises people who think the main source of imported oil is Saudi Arabia.

Not even close. The Saudis are a distant second. This happens daily because our country of 36 million, with the world’s fifth largest oil production, can’t get a cross-country pipeline built.

At a moment when any trade channel could be threatened, this dependence has never appeared more insane. That oil imbalance is far more a national security issue to Canada than our steel or aluminum will ever be to the U.S.

What if Trump imposes an export tax on U.S. oil shipped to Canada? Or slaps a tariff on our mammoth shipments to the U.S.?

We obviously need to sell oil outside this continent. Someday, the Trans Mountain project might see to that.

But it also makes every sense for Canadian oil to supply the whole country. Every day we hand a huge market to a dozen countries, the Americans first among them.

Successive national governments, including the Trudeau Liberals, bear some responsibility for serial pipeline failures.

But now, Ottawa is snapping awake to a hard new era. It might occur to someone that a national pipeline would build economic unity against American belligerence, just as the railway once did.

Federal strategists are at least considering every dire possibility, both economic and geopolitical.

On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland gave a riveting account of federal thinking.

Speaking in Washington, she delivered a great Canadian speech that went far beyond the alarming trade threats to the very heart of the Trump crisis.

“I would like to speak about a challenge that affects us all — the weakening of the rules-based international order and the threat that resurgent authoritarianism poses to liberal democracy itself,” she said.

Freeland quoted Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. She praised America’s vast achievements, including the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Japan after the Second World War.

She acknowledged the reality of middle-class discontent that foments populist anger.

But she also talked extensively about the danger of rising authoritarianism, without naming you-know-who, while making the parallels unmistakable.

“Authoritarianism is often justified as a more efficient way of getting things done — no messy contested elections, no wrenching shift from one short-termist governing party to another, no troublesome judicial oversight, no time-consuming public consultation.

“How much more effective, the apologists argue, for a paramount leader with a long-term vision — and permanent tenure — to rule.”

Trump is not all of those things, obviously.

But few careful observers of this presidency can fail to suspect he’d like to be.

Then Freeland touched on another reason for the Trump phenomenon; the western world’s loss of global influence.

“How shall we behave in a world we no longer dominate?” she asked.

“One answer is to give up on the rules-based international order, to give up on the western alliance and seek to survive in a Metternichian world defined not by common values, mutually agreed-upon rules and shared prosperity, but rather by a ruthless struggle between great powers, governed solely by the narrow, short-term and mercantilist pursuit of self-interest.”

With complete honesty she told the audience: “Canada could never thrive in such a world. But you, still the world’s largest economy, may be tempted.”

The far wiser path for the old allies is to reform and renew the old alliances, “and hold the door open to new friends,” such as Tunisia, Senegal, Indonesia, Mexico, Botswana, Chile or Ukraine.

She concluded by saying Canada “is shoulder to shoulder” with the world’s democracies.

“We all know we will be strongest with America in our ranks — and indeed in the lead.

“But whatever this great country’s choice will turn out to be, let me be clear that Canada knows where it stands.”

The speech was an eloquent and respectful refutation of America’s direction under Trump.

For me, it also raised hope that with the American security blanket yanked away, Canada’s long age of complacency will finally end.


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  • Calgary Herald
  • 5 Jul 2018

It was only a matter of time before the circus arrived.

Early Tuesday, several members of Greenpeace Canada rappelled down from Vancouver’s Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in an attempt to disrupt oil tanker traffic at the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

“The blockade is an act of peaceful resistance to the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project,” said a Greenpeace statement.

“It comes on the heels of months of escalating resistance led by Indigenous communities and supporters across Canada and around the world.”

Meanwhile, the pipeline company said it was business as usual. No ship was scheduled to leave port during the protest.

That’s par for the course for this type of protest: make a big splash (figuratively not literally, one hopes) by dangling from bridges, towers and buildings, unfurling banners and try to spark a revolution.

Greenpeace has been doing it for years, all over the world. In fact, earlier in the day Greenpeace crashed drones into a nuclear power plant in France.

It must work for improving their rappelling or drone skills, but it doesn’t work for making a difference. Change must come the old-fashioned way, through research, education and persuasion — at all levels of society. It doesn’t come from the end of a rappel rope.

Greenpeace, like some hardcore advocacy groups, misses that point, in order to raise funds, increase memberships and vent their frustration with society. However, the complexities of mitigating climate change cannot be reduced to a high-wire act, dressing up like orcas or chaining yourselves to bulldozers.

On the contrary, it does cause harm by polarizing the debate into Us and Them. The conversation should be about all of us. But that’s a hard conversation that doesn’t sell memberships — or earn votes, for that matter.

If we, as a society, are truly worried about our environment, we must lose our current fixation with pipelines. It’s merely a convenient deflection from the real truth: pipelines don’t cause climate change, people do. It’s the same with the new fixation with plastic straws. Of all the millions of tonnes of garbage and pollution we create, we now think the answer is to ban plastic straws? Now that’s a pipe dream.

If we truly want to do something useful, then we should attempt to reduce our own individual footprints on the planet. Blame ourselves, not the Other Guy or Big Oil or Big Banks or Justin Trudeau.

One hopes that eventually reason and compassion for our only planet will succeed where the circus acts trivializing the issue have failed.


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it would be interesting to find out the Nationality of those in this stunt. I would bet a number of them are not Canadian.

July 7, 2018 9:59 am

COMMENTARY: Pipeline opposition no excuse for dangerous and illegal stunts

Rob Breakenridge By Rob Breakenridge Radio Host  Global News 

It should hardly be surprising that Greenpeace would engage in a reckless stunt in order to draw attention to whatever issue they happened to be fixated on at any given moment. Frankly, as Greenpeace has increasingly become an irrelevant voice on the radical fringes, such stunts have essentially become the organization’s modus operandi.

But that willingness to be reckless, combined with a ferocious opposition to any and all pipelines, is leading us down a potentially dangerous path. Further escalation only increases the likelihood that someone will be injured or killed. Reasonable people can disagree about pipelines or tankers or fossil fuels in general, but reasonable people should be able to agree on just how irresponsible this approach is.

READ MORE: Police remove pipeline protesters dangling from Ironworkers Memorial Bridge

This latest Greenpeace stunt involved seven activists rappelling down from the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver and dangling there in order to prevent tankers — or, specifically one tanker from the Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal — from passing underneath. After about a day and a half, police patience was finally exhausted and officers moved in to remove the danglers.

A total of 12 people — the seven danglers and five others who assisted — were arrested and face charges of mischief and charges under the Canada Shipping Act. These are serious enough charges that could warrant jail time and hopefully the courts will come down hard on the dangling dozen so as to make it clear that these sorts of reckless stunts won’t be tolerated.

Furthermore, it’s hard to see what this stunt actually accomplished beyond further discrediting those involved. After some brief disruptions to shipping traffic, things quickly returned to normal. As for the pipeline itself, the construction plans for the next six months were announced as the danglers were swinging from the bottom of the bridge.

Rather than apologize for their actions or admit their failure, Greenpeace activist Mike Hudema instead donned the mantle of martyr. On Twitter, he lamented that “no one should need to spend almost two days suspended from a bridge trying to protect something as essential as water.”

Well, the first part of that statement is true: clearly no one should spend almost two days suspended from a bridge. But the idea that Greenpeace are the defenders of water is both arrogant and laughable. No one has tasked Greenpeace with being the “protectors” of anything, and a dangerous stunt on a bridge cannot be classified as any sort of act of defence.

  It’s also a very naive and simplistic view of the situation. Even if opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are successful in blocking the project, it may ultimately turn out to be a very pointless and pyrrhic victory.

The disruption of this pipeline would have no impact on demand for fossil fuels and a very minimal impact on supply, certainly in the global scheme of things. The demand for oil is not going away any time soon, and it’s delusional to think otherwise. Displacing Canadian oil only creates a void to be filled by other oil-producing nations, many of which are much less stringent when it comes to environmental standards.

Blocking pipelines also means that oil-by-rail is going to continue to increase – and those numbers are already at a record high. The risk of a spill is much higher when crude is being transported by rail, and the actions of the so-called water defenders could result in the perverse outcome of putting water at greater risk. Therefore, the option of a new, state-of-the-art, highly regulated pipeline coupled with billions of dollars committed to coastal protection seems like a much more responsible way of balancing energy development and risks.


But again, we can have debates and disagreements on such matters. Pipeline opponents may be reluctant to turn on their own, but those who are willing to break the law or put themselves in danger need to be called out and condemned.

Rather than pursuing change on the policy side, the environmental movement has, for whatever reason, made energy infrastructure projects their hill to die on. So be it. Let’s just hope that “hill to die on” remains metaphorical.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News

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7 hours ago, Malcolm said:

it would be interesting to find out the Nationality of those in this stunt. I would bet a number of them are not Canadian

The leftie media would not want to report that!

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Dirty BC Coal. 

Much fuss about the potential of an oil spill but little about a real problem.

‎Today, ‎July ‎8, ‎2018, ‏‎18 minutes ago

U.S. says Canada delaying damning report on B.C. coal mine chemicals in border river

‎Today, ‎July ‎8, ‎2018, ‏‎1 hour ago | The Canadian Press

United States officials are accusing their Canadian counterparts of sitting on damning new data about toxic chemicals from southern British Columbia coal mines in water shared by both countries.

In a letter to the U.S. State Department, Americans on the International Joint Commission say Canadian members are blocking the release of information on contaminants that are many times above guideline levels.

“Canadian commissioners have not been willing to submit a report that addresses selenium pollution in transboundary waters of the Kootenai River drainage,” says the letter to the State Department’s director of Canadian affairs.

The commission was created in 1909 as a way to discuss water that crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

The B.C. dispute, brewing for decades, burst open in June when the commission’s two Canadian members refused to endorse a report on selenium in the Elk River watershed just north of the border.

Trace amounts of selenium are healthy, but large doses can lead to gastrointestinal disorders, nerve damage, cirrhosis of the liver and even death in humans. In fish, it causes reproductive failure.

The report documents increasing selenium in Canadian water flowing into the transboundary Koocanusa reservoir.

All five waterways in the report have selenium levels at the maximum or above B.C.’s drinking water guidelines. Two are four times higher.

The study says the level of selenium in the Elk and Fording rivers is 70 times that in the Flathead River, which doesn’t get runoff from five coal mines operated by Teck Resources.

In May, Teck reported selenium levels in Koocanusa exceeded both human health and aquatic life guidelines.

“High selenium concentrations are resulting in deformities and reproductive failure in trout and increasing fish mortality of up to 50 per cent in some portions of the Elk and Fording watersheds,” the letter says.

Things are getting worse, said Erin Sexton, a researcher at the University of Montana. Elk River stations near the mines are reporting levels 50 times what’s recommended for aquatic health. Near the city of Fernie, B.C., readings are 10 times that level.


The Elk River near Elko. B.C. is seen on Wednesday September 30, 2015.

“The levels of selenium in the Elk are astronomical,” said Sexton.

Commission spokeswoman Sarah Lobrichon said the report is still being reviewed by commissioners on both sides.

“They’re in deliberations to consider how this new information … can complement the work of the advisory board.”

Until all agree, the report won’t go to either government, Lobrichon said.

The Americans say the delay is deliberate.

“Our Canadian colleagues prefer an earlier version of the report that is weak on addressing the recently defined impacts of selenium,” the letter says.

Teck built a water treatment plant in 2014, but its operation has been intermittent and it is currently closed. It was converting selenium into a form more easily absorbed by plants and animals.

Teck Resources said in a statement that it does extensive water testing. It said selenium levels “are appropriate and protective of aquatic life” and that fish populations haven’t been affected.

The company said it’s following a water quality plan and will spend up to $900 million over the next five years on new treatment plants.

The mines employ 4,000 workers.

An Environment Canada spokesman said new coal mine regulations are coming for toxins such as selenium.

Mark Johnson said Teck was fined $1.4 million in 2017 over selenium discharges. The company is being investigated for further violations.

“Nobody’s happy that there’s selenium in excess of water quality guidelines,” said Douglas Hill of B.C.’s Environment Department. “But we’re reasonably satisfied that Teck’s making best efforts to address the problem.”

Hill said Teck is obliged to stabilize selenium levels by the end of the decade. After that, levels are to start dropping.

Adapting existing technology to the large area and rugged landscape of Teck’s operations is challenging, said Hill.

“It’s not like they can go to Canadian Tire and buy this stuff.”

Sexton said selenium in some fish from the Koocanusa increased 20 to 70 per cent between 2008 and 2013. Montana officials surveyed fish in March for a five-year update.

“Most people anticipate there’s going to be another jump,” Sexton said.

The letter says selenium will continue to leach into rivers and groundwater for centuries if no solution is found.

“It’s financial, it’s economic, but to me it’s a poor choice to keep placing waste rock every day in that watershed and creating more surface area to leach into the river,” said Sexton.

“There’s not a consideration being made for the fish, the water or the people downstream.”

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Even though I'm very pro environment, I'm not opposed to the course Trump is on.

As well meaning as regulation may be, most of it's not achieving the objective; the rules of commercial play are far too complex, which renders them unworkable and the environment the loser.

I don't know that Trump is doing anything that'll improve the situation for anyone other than industry, but it's time for a new approach when it comes to environmental protection matters.

Trump is shaking the tree and that seems like a better idea overall. 

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This will be interesting to watch. Let's hope no one (especially those who will enforce any eviction) is hurt.

July 18, 2018 2:27 pm

Updated: July 18, 2018 2:37 pm

City of Burnaby orders eviction of Trans Mountain protest camp

By Simon Little and Liza Yuzda CKNWProtesters at Camp Cloud on Burnaby Mountain have been given 72 hours to clear the site of built structures.

The City of Burnaby has issued an eviction order for an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline protest camp on Burnaby Mountain.

The encampment, known as Camp Cloud, has been growing along the side of Shellmont Street near Underhill Avenue near the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s main facility in the area. 

Protesters have been ordered to clear structures from the camp immediately, but the city says it will not take enforcement action for 72 hours.

 The city says there are more than 10 built structures in the camp, along with multiple trailers, vehicles, portable washrooms and showers.

“We’ve been working with Camp Cloud to bring them into compliance on a voluntary basis, and at this point in time, we felt that we need to take extra steps to encourage them for full compliance,” said Burnaby City Manager Lambert Chu.

WATCH: Kinder Morgan opponents in for long-haul, threaten Global News crew with violence

Chu said the city respects the rights of pipeline opponents to protest at the site, but that the camp and its activities on site are in violation of multiple city bylaws.

“The illegal structures, and the continuous burning of open fires… We also have a provincial fire ban that came into effect [Wednesday],” said Chu.

READ MORE: Global BC reporter says crew threatened with violence at Kinder Morgan protest camp

Protest camp occupant Candy Lee says the city has no jurisdiction over the encampment.

“I think this is a federal issue, considering this is Indigenous people, Coast Salish, asserting their Indigenous authority and so for this to be enforced by bylaws it needs to come on a nation-to-nation level where it’s a Crown to indigenous issue,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Kayaktivists’ descend on Kinder Morgan marine terminal in Burnaby

Lee said there are no plans to remove the structures or stop fires.

He also raised concerns an attempt at an eviction could follow in the footsteps of historic conflicts between police and Indigenous protesters such as the Oka crisis or Gustafson Lake standoff.

Global News is seeking comment from the mayor of Burnaby and Trans Mountain.

More to come…

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55 minutes ago, QFE said:

Since when has a Provincial fire ban become a Federal jurisdiction?

Since Trudeau started burning Canada to the core !

Edited by Jaydee

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1 hour ago, QFE said:

Since when has a Provincial fire ban become a Federal jurisdiction?

Not sure where you are getting that from. The eviction order is from the City of Burnaby and the fire ban is a Provincial one .


“The illegal structures, and the continuous burning of open fires… We also have a provincial fire ban that came into effect [Wednesday],” said Chu.

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