Many voices from Chilliwack are chiming in with criticism of the $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and Kinder Morgan assets last week by the Trudeau government.
A rally to oppose the buyout will be outside Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl’s office on Vedder Road at 4 p.m. on June 4, as part of a National Day of Action to Stop the Kinder Morgan Buyout, organized by Council of Canadians and other climate action groups.
“It’s outrageous,” said Suzy Coulter, member of the Council of Canadians Chilliwack Chapter, about the bailout of the pipeline.
“Many First Nations still don’t have clean drinking water. There’s a housing crisis. Canada is falling behind other countries in renewable energy,” said Coulter. “Yet Trudeau wants to waste money on this failing project likely to cost taxpayers up to $15 billion. This project is so risky, even Kinder Morgan doesn’t think it is a good investment.”
Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl was also very critical of the buyout — but for different reasons.
He pointed out that $4.5 billion figure does not include building the twinned pipeline, which could cost upwards of $7 billion, $8 or or $9 billion more.
“I think the bailout is just a complete disaster. Nationalizing the pipeline was not what was asked for by Kinder Morgan,” Strahl said. “The Government of Canada now owns what was previously a private asset, to be run by a Crown corporation.”
The botched move could scare off private investors in the Canadian energy sector.
“I don’t know anyone who would look at the climate we have now around the project, with its continued opposition and delays and invest. It all factors in, and I can’t see any way they will find a buyer. They will have to build it themselves,” said Strahl.
It is a backward step.
“Justin Trudeau’s nationalization of this pipeline hasn’t done anything but make taxpayers billions of dollars poorer. Those who oppose the pipeline will still oppose it. The protesters are still going to protest. The court cases are still going to continue.
“The only certainty is that it’s now taxpayers who have taken on all of the risk after yet another private company with private money was chased away from Canada’s energy sector.”
MP Strahl has been in favour of the twinning project all along, providing it could be built safely, but he said he never advocated buying it.
“It sets unbelievable precedent,” Strahl said. “And it sends a terrible message to people who create jobs in this country.”
But PIPE UP member and local resident Michael Hale thinks Canada doesn’t need the oil anyway, and there are more jobs possible in the renewable energy sector.
“Kinder Morgan just proved that there is no economic case for the project,” said Hale. “Kinder Morgan has not found markets in Asia.”
Of course KM has been shipping bitumen through the existing pipeline since they bought it in 2005.
“All the bitumen currently goes to the U.S. I think Trudeau is trying to foist a pig in a poke on the people of Canada.”
Part of the problem with the feds moving ahead like this is not taking the opposition into consideration, said Hale.
Mutual benefits agreements “are not consultation,” he stressed.
“If they try to force it, the opposition will make Clayquot look like a small rally. The court challenges are quite solid.”
There has to be a balance between environmental devastation and economic development.
“Of course, economics are important,” said Chilliwack PIPE UP member Erin Coulter. “However we need to pursue clean energy technology.
“There are so many risks in expanding the tar sands, the big one being world-wide environmental destruction caused by climate change.”
It’s not technically finalized, either.
“The sale won’t be finalized for at least a month, there’s a massive backlash from voters, and over a dozen court challenges. Trudeau could still cancel the buyout,” said local businessman and former BC Green Party candidate, Wayne Froese.
Some First Nations activists have been against the project from day one.
“Clearly, the federal government, in this decision on the Kinder Morgan buyout, has reneged on its promise to implement the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; in particular, the right to Free, Prior and Informed consent. ” says Soowahlie activist Larry Commodore.