MP Shannon Stubbs Slams Liberals’ Political Decision Process

Ottawa, ON—On Tuesday, Prime Minister Trudeau and senior Cabinet Ministers announced the political approval of two pipelines, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain and Line 3, while rejecting the application for Northern Gateway.  

 “While I welcome the approval of both Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansion projects, there’s still no indication when, or if, these pipelines will actually get done. There is still a long road ahead for Canada,” said MP Stubbs. “The Liberals need to champion these critical infrastructure projects, and work with proponents to ensure the conditions aren’t permanent roadblocks, in order to create jobs and to get Canadian energy to market.”

Both Trans Mountain and Line 3 are expansion projects, not completely new pipelines. Trans Mountain, which was first built in 1953, will get a 987 km new twin pipeline which will triple the current capacity to 890,000 barrels per day. The Liberals amended the review process in January 2016 to add four months of extra time for cabinet to make a decision.

“The independent, evidence based, independent, expert National Energy Board approved Trans Mountain earlier this year on May 18th, 2016. The Prime Minister and cabinet delayed the process by seven months, causing uncertainty for TransMountain, other pipeline proposals, and for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the energy sector. But the approval of TransMountain isn’t a complete surprise since the Prime Minister had already spoken in favour of that project during the past several months and in the election campaign. Ultimately, this approval was based on partisan calculations and politics, just like the rejection of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which the Prime Minister had also spoken against publicly on several occasions. It doesn’t enhance confidence in the Canadian regulatory system, or certainty for investors, when the process is stopped and started arbitrarily, on a project by project basis, and it seems the experts are irrelevant while the final decisions are political and partisan.” 

The Prime Minister dismissed the application for Northern Gateway, which had been recommended for approval by the National Energy Board and was supported by 31 First Nations communities.  The Prime Minister said it was not a safe option for transporting oil to market, even though he stated earlier in the same press conference that pipelines are the safest way to transport resources.  Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project would have run from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, BC, and would have created 4000 new jobs.

“On Northern Gateway, the pipeline that would actually diversify Canada’s customers by getting Canadian energy to tidewater and then to Asian markets, the Liberals actually outright overruled and rejected the decision of the independent regulator, with no options for the NEB or for the Northern Gateway project, and have closed the door on billions of dollars and years of hard work done by the proponent, community members and First Nations partners,” said MP Stubbs. “What happened on Tuesday is clearly political, personal decision making. Not one based on fact, scientific and evidence based expert recommendations; the Liberals keep claiming they are trying to “restore confidence” in the regulatory system, but they are actually undermining it consistently. Getting Canada’s energy resources to tidewater and diversifying the customer base is key for the long term sustainability of the sector, and must be a priority now more than ever.”

Accompanying this rejection, Prime Minister Trudeau announced his moratorium banning oil tanker traffic would soon become a law.

“There had been no consultation or economic impact assessment, and no analysis of safety or environmental standards and gaps, before deciding this moratorium in the first place. Now the Liberals are making it law. This is a direct instruction from the Prime Minister, not from local communities, indigenous groups, or experts. How can the Liberals say they value scientific, fact and evidence based decision making, when there was zero consultation prior to the moratorium being directed in ministerial mandate letters shortly after the last election?” questioned MP Stubbs.

Tuesday’s announcement brings the fate of other pipeline projects into question. The United States is both Canada's single biggest customer and is rapidly becoming Canada's biggest competitor, meaning time is of the essence with the approval of Keystone XL.  

“Canada needs more pipelines. The future of Keystone XL and Energy East are unknown. It's clear the new US President-Elect will aggressively pursue US energy development and independence, so it is equally important for Canada's Prime Minister and cabinet to secure agreement on the completion of Keystone XL to increase export capacity into the US, and to expedite the responsible approval of energy transportation infrastructure to diversify Canadian energy export markets and to expand the customer base for Canadian energy around the world,” said Stubbs.

Last year’s mandate letters also included instructions to update Canada’s world leading environmental and regulatory processes. The Liberals are now in the midst of lengthy reviews and consultations on the ‘modernization’ of the National Energy Board (NEB), The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the Fisheries Act, and the Navigation Protection Act.

“Under the Liberals, approval now varies from project to project, determined while these reviews are underway, and final decisions based on the Prime Minister’s whim. This means uncertainty for investors and proponents when we can least afford it,” said Stubbs. “It's time for the Liberals to stop playing politics with Canada’s energy future, stop putting up roadblocks to pipelines and start working to get Canadian energy - which is the most socially and environmentally responsible oil and gas in the world - to diverse global markets.”