Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks on the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline project
Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming. There are times in the life of a country when we come together in common purpose for the good of the country. This is one of those times. For months now, we’ve worked hard with the governments of British Columbia and Alberta to help them chart a path forward together on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Our discussion today was the culmination of many meetings, many discussions, and I’m sure that we’ll have many more in the days and weeks ahead. The time we have taken in this process was necessary; that’s democracy. We knew from day one that the only way to get this built was by consulting, and engaging, and listening to folks. Canada has completed the deepest consultations with rights holders ever on a major project in this country. And working with our Indigenous partners has been paramount. To date, 43 First Nations have negotiated benefit agreements with the project, 33 of those in British Columbia. Throughout, the Government of Canada’s objective has been clear: to develop the vital infrastructure that is critical to our ability to get Canadian resources to global markets, and to do this while protecting our environment, which includes safeguarding our coastlines and combatting climate change.
Fundamental to this strategy is the truth that protecting our environment and growing our economy are not opposing values. On the contrary, each makes the other possible. We’ve put in place the most rigorous set of environmental standards, ocean protection, and coastline protection in the world, and we’re not done. We know we can always do better and we will. That sense of optimism, of hope, of ambition to leave the world a better place than we found it is who we are as Canadians. But as I said when I first described this strategy to the Calgary Petroleum Club five years ago, hope alone is not enough. A relentless work ethic is needed, pragmatism is needed, and compromise is needed. And at the end of the day, no matter the province, territory, city or town we call home, all Canadians love this country and we are there for each other in times of need.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is a vital strategic interest to Canada. It will be built. But what does that mean, to say that it is in the vital, strategic interest of Canada? Well, it means that hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work long hours every day to put food on the table and to build this country, depend on this project getting built. It means people in the oil patch are hurting, have been hurting for years, and we stand with them just as we stand with forestry workers in B.C., aerospace workers in Quebec, and auto workers in Ontario. It means the job of a pipe fitter in Fort Mac matters as much as that of an aluminum worker in Alma, as the forestry worker in Prince Rupert, the autoworker in Windsor, or the fisherman in St. John’s. It means every single Canadian’s family and future and dreams matter. It means the billions in public funds for healthcare, for infrastructure, for the environment now being lost to the discount on Canadian heavy crude because we can’t get our product to new markets is not something we can accept as a permanent anchor on our national prospects. And it means that even as we continue to work hard with Premiers Notley and Horgan to find solutions, we must recognize that they remain at an impasse, which only the Government of Canada has the capacity and the authority to resolve.
The B.C. government’s efforts to block this project have obviously inflamed passions and political rhetoric in both provinces and across the country so I want to encourage leaders of all stripes to keep one thing in mind as we go forward: B.C.ers and Albertans are not opponents. They are neighbours, they are fellow countrymen and women who want the best for themselves and for each other. Every day millions of Canadians in both provinces work together, play together, and build communities and a great country together. B.C.ers don’t want to block Alberta’s resources, they want to know that the coast is protected, and for too long it wasn’t and now it will be. The Oceans Protection Plan makes sure of that. Albertans care as much about Canada’s natural beauty as anyone. Spend some time camping or hiking around Kananaskis country, and talk to people. You won’t find more passionate defenders of conservation and the environment. They wouldn’t dream of putting it in jeopardy. We are a vast, varied, cooperative federation built on centuries of compromise but we are, above all, one country governed by our constitution and by the rule of law.
As such, I have instructed the Minister of Finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. We will not have these discussions in public, but construction will go ahead.
I have also informed Premiers Notley and Horgan today that we are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert plus reinforce the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have. Canada is a country defined by hope and hard work. The hope that a better community, a better future, a better country is always possible, and the hard work to make that happen. So to make that dream a reality, Canadians need and expect an honest, open federal government that works with all sides to solve big problems in the national interest. This is both our constitutional right and our responsibility. We assert that right and embrace that responsibility.
A little over a week ago, I got the chance to spend an hour or so in the lunchroom of the new, state-of-the-art Suncor facility in Fort McMurray. The first thing that strikes you when you talk to people in Fort Mac is that they are from everywhere. Every province and territory, big cities and small towns, from North Sydney to Campbell River and all parts in between. The work these Canadians do together creates jobs and feeds families everywhere. It is with them in mind that we assert the Government of Canada’s constitutional authority to complete this vital project.
We’re going through a time of great change here in Canada and around the world. Climate change, income inequality, the rise of extreme politics of both the right and the left: these are all forces with the potential to pull us apart. We will weather these changes and we will come through them even stronger. We will do this the way Canadians always do when we are tested: by pulling together.