After a two week break, the Kinder Morgan pipeline dispute was on the minds of members of parliament today in Ottawa.
The debate during Question Period was lively.
“I want to ask my friend just how they’re willing to go, to go roughshod over Indigenous rights to do the work of a Texas-based oil company?” Answer that,” asked NDP MP Charlie Angus.
“The member knows that the government of Canada has engaged in unprecedented consultations with Indigenous communities up and down the line,” responded Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr. “We know that 44 Indigenous communities have signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and B.C. Premier John Horgan to try and negotiate a settlement to the dispute that has stopped the multi-billion dollar project.
After the meeting, Trudeau promised financial and legislative tools to ensure the expansion could proceed.
No First Nation leaders were invited to the meeting.
Trudeau said his finance minister will start “formal financial discussions” with Kinder Morgan and explore all legislative options to save the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project.
“The construction will go ahead,” Trudeau said Sunday, without divulging many details, including how much the federal government could float to keep the Alberta-to-British Columbia pipeline project alive.
In reaction to the prime minister’s promise, several B.C. First Nations and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby joined together to reiterate their opposition to the $7.4 billion project.
Union of B.C. Indian Chief’s Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, one of several First Nations voices at a news conference today, says opposition to the project is broad-based and entrenched.
He says First Nations have a constitutional and legal right to protect the health and well-being of their loved ones and if there was ever a spill of bitumen on land or water it could be catastrophic.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says the expansion project “short circuits” the legal process and civil disobedience against the pipeline it will only continue to grow.
Corrigan says he’s embarrassed that Canada’s prime minister and a premier of our country are kowtowing to an American multinational oil company that isn’t playing by the rules in its effort to push through the pipeline.
Outside the House of Commons, Carr warned that anyone breaking the law will likely be arrested.
“It’s not up to me,” Carr told reporters. “I mean, there are law enforcement officials who will determine when someone has broken the law, and as we found out over the last number of weeks, many people have chosen to break the law and someone has called the police and they’ve been arrested, including, including two Members of Parliament.”
Kinder Morgan has stopped all non-essential spending on the pipeline while the federal government tries to reassure the company’s investors that the project will move forward despite opposition from the government of British Columbia.