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Council opposes federal subsidies to Texas-based transnational’s controversial pipeline

The Council of Canadians was on Parliament Hill yesterday as premiers Rachel Notley and John Horgan arrived to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about the Kinder Morgan pipeline project. (Photo from Mike De Souza Facebook page.)

The Council of Canadians opposes  taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize Texas-based Kinder Morgan’s controversial $7.4 billion tar sands pipeline.

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue comments, “Federal money to the Kinder Morgan pipeline is not only outrageous, it is another broken promise from Prime Minister Trudeau who has clearly stated he would phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

The Canadian Press reports, “It has been a week since Kinder Morgan announced it was halting all non-essential spending on the plan to build a second, bigger pipeline parallel to the existing one between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. The company gave the Trudeau government until the end of May to reassure its investors the pipeline would be built, despite mounting opposition. …[Now] Trudeau is putting taxpayer money where his government’s mouth is, promising to deploy both financial and legislative tools to ensure the disputed Trans Mountain pipeline is able to proceed.”

It adds, “[Trudeau] said the negotiations with Kinder Morgan wouldn’t play out in public, and he would not elaborate on exactly what the legislation will say.”

How much money might Trudeau put into the pipeline?

Last week, Andrew Nikiforuk wrote in The Tyee, “Kinder Morgan Canada has arranged $5.5 billion in construction facility loans from Canadian banks — but only if Kinder Morgan raises $2 billion in equity for the project.”

Ethan Cox writes in his ‘Kinder Morgan is playing Canada’ article in Ricochet, “[Kinder Morgan shareholders are] thrilled by the idea of a government bailout. As they see it the company has shrewdly created an artificial deadline and a sense of urgency in government circles, and a win-win situation for investors. If the government is able to remove all obstacles to construction in six weeks, great. If not, even better as the government has made clear it will buy the project outright if necessary.”

National Observer reporter Mike De Souza highlights, “Any new money for Kinder Morgan would be added onto hundreds of millions of dollars that the Trudeau government has already committed, on behalf of taxpayers, for the pipeline… The Trudeau government previously announced a $1.5 billion federal plan to protect Canada’s oceans and address the dramatic increase in west coast oil tanker traffic that will be driven by the Trans Mountain expansion. This despite recommendations from the federal Environment Department that the company should cover these costs on its own.”

That article also notes, “The government also created a $65 million program to accommodate First Nations affected by the project that will be paid for through federal funds, and not by the company.”

The federal government already provides an estimated $3.3 billion in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

Harden-Donahue also asks, “Why didn’t Trudeau invite Indigenous nations to yesterday’s meeting with the premiers?”

That’s in part because during the October 2015 federal election, the Liberal platform promised, “It is time for Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. …As part of this renewed relationship, we will do more to make sure that the voices of Indigenous Peoples are heard in Ottawa.”

Just 43 of the First Nations on the Kinder Morgan pipeline route have negotiated benefits agreements with the company. And weeks before Trudeau announced his approval of the pipeline in November 2016, 59 First Nations that would be affected by the pipeline were seeking more time for adequate consultation. Notably, the 1,150 kilometre pipeline would cross 518 kilometres of the Secwepemc Nation, which has not given its free, prior and informed consent to the project.

Furthermore, the Vancouver Sun recently reported that a Federal Court of Appeal decision on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Upper Nicola Band, the Coldwater Indian Band, the Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation, the Squamish Nation, and Sto:lo applicants’ challenge against Trudeau’s approval of the pipeline “could be released at any time”.

To sign our petition ‘Back off Trudeau, respect Indigenous rights and BC’s no to Kinder Morgan’, please click here.