Trans Mountain expansion is in the national interest

The time for political games and trade wars is over. Let’s create jobs, economic growth and improved competitiveness for Canada.

The day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood before the nation and declared the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline (TMEP) in the best interest of all Canadians, was the day our country took control of its energy future.

This $7.4-billion nation-building project will not only create jobs for Canadians, it will spur economic growth, improve our competitiveness, decrease our reliance on the United States, and open Canada up to new trade partners, globally.

Approval wasn’t easy to get as Canada boasts a stringent, world-class regulatory system. TMEP underwent more than two years of rigorous review by the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Energy Assessment Agency (CEAA), as well as the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO). All three agencies support the project.

But in the simplest of terms, the current B.C. government wants to stop TMEP before it even begins. In an attempt to set up roadblocks, it is frustrating the nation and putting the future of economic development in Western Canada at risk.

It was the federal government’s decision to grant approval and it will the NEB’s responsibility to regulate and monitor the pipeline. B.C. doesn’t have the jurisdiction to reverse this important decision nor should it be playing political games with Canada’s future.

And still, more than a year after the project was approved with 157 conditions aimed at protecting the environment, the federal government believes TMEP is in Canada’s national interest.

Ottawa knows how important it is to protect B.C.’s environment, which is why it introduced the $1.5-billion Ocean Protections Plan to mitigate and address concerns about marine safety. As well, TMEP is required to report to the NEB and BCEAO on research about oil programs and incorporate the latest findings in its emergency response plans.

Major pipelines such as TMEP are needed to support Canada’s economic future and provide jobs for British Columbians. Today more than 700 small- and medium-sized companies in B.C. conduct about $1.3 billion in business with the energy sector every year, representing thousands of jobs and support for B.C. families.

The industry is proud of Canada’s track record as a world leader in environmental stewardship. We are disappointed the B.C. government will not acknowledge the level of regulatory and environmental scrutiny TMEP has already undergone.

Our rich oil and natural gas resources could remain stranded if we can’t get our energy to new and emerging markets such as India and China. By constraining our ability to reach global markets, we are constraining our country’s ability to innovate, compete and be a leader.

Canada has lost nearly $60 billion of investment since 2016 with the demise of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and TransCanada’s Energy East pipelines, and PETRONAS’ Pacific NorthWest LNG project. This represents more than just lost investment, it means lost jobs for Canadians.

However, as we re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and face an uncertain future with our biggest trade partner – the U.S. – a trade war within our own country’s borders is looming. Instead of respecting our federal government’s oversight and ability to make decisions for Canada, B.C. is disputing its law-making authority. Rather than working together, B.C. is building barriers.

Despite the provincial government’s attempt to thwart this nation-building project, it is time for Canada to move forward, given the important role our energy industry plays in our country’s prosperity and security.

The Prime Minister said this project is safe, responsible and in our national interest. The time for political games and trade wars is over. Now is the time for leadership. The time to build Canada is now.

This commentary also appears on the B.C. news outlet, The Province.

Suggested additional reading:

Building Trans Mountain: What you need to know

World-Class Marine Shipping: The Canada way

What Could Have Been: Missing out on billions in investments