Federal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline to BC this week has the potential to be a big win for Premier Rachel Notley.
MRU political scientist David Taras tells Global News Notley played hardball with Prime Minister Trudeau ahead of this month’s first minister meeting on climate change. “She forced his hand. Trudeau’s big goal is this grand agreement on climate change…this is his signature policy. What she said is ‘Alberta is not on board unless there’s a pipeline’. With the approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Taras says Notley and the NDP have done what previous government’s were unable to do–get approval for a pipeline that would give Alberta oil access to tidewater.
But Taras says there are many who feel the pipeline is a pipe dream due to strong opposition in BC. “We have to remember that Rona Ambrose, the (federal) Conservative leader, said ‘this pipeline will never be built.’ The reason she’s arguing is…there’s going to be court challenges, demonstrations, protests, there’s going to be sit-ins, there might be violence. The protests are going to be extremely well organized.”
Taras adds the pipeline approval put BC politicians in an awkward spot because they face a backlash if they support a project their constituents oppose. But he says there’s reason for Alberta to hope project can overcome the political opposition in BC. “The one key card here is they (BC) have a lot of asks in to the federal government. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you too hard. And I think that the federal government is going to have very direct and sort of tough talks with the indigenous leadership as well.”
The MRU political scientist says it’s too early to say if the pipeline approval will help the NDP in the next election, noting much depends on the shape of the provincial economy two years from now.