Notley says federal OK for TMX coming by end of May

Image: Kinder Morgan Canada

EDMONTON — Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says she expects Ottawa to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the west coast by the end of May.

In a election campaign stop with energy workers in Edmonton, she said the province is nearer than ever to getting the pipeline.

“We are this close, this close to getting that pipeline back under construction,” Notley said Monday. “In fact, we expect an approval from the federal government by the end of next month.”

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22. That started the clock on a 90-day period for the federal government to decide whether the project should proceed.

No one from federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi's office immediately returned a request for comment, but he has previously said a final decision won't be made until consultations with affected Indigenous groups are complete.

Notley said she understands that the federal government is making good progress on those consultations.

“It's not like the federal government is calling me up saying, 'Hey, we are going to do this' because they are not and I am not here saying that,” said Notley.

“What I am telling you is that public opinion is fully behind it, that the recommendations of the NEB have addressed all of the issues ... the position of the industry here and the fact it's paired with an emissions cap in the oilsands — all of these things address all of the critical objections that have been made in the past.

“We've got growing support from Indigenous groups across this province and into B.C. who want in on the pipeline deal. There is just a growing level of support.”

Notley said about seven in 10 Canadians now support the project because they understand it would support jobs and a strong economy.

She said that if her party were to be re-elected on April 16, she would continue to stand up for Alberta's energy industry.

“I am willing to bet my political future on it,” she said. “We're going to get this pipeline built and, when it happens, it will be the first pipeline to tidewater in over 60 years. Albertans need to have faith that we will get this done.”

In a speech in Medicine Hat, United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said Notley has sold the province out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.

“Our premier is pretending,” Kenney said. “The real fight of the NDP's life has been against the pipeline, against energy jobs, against oil and gas.”

He suggested the NDP hasn't been genuine.

“They opposed Northern Gateway. They folded on Energy East. They opposed Keystone XL. They did nothing to fight back against all these anti-energy Trudeau policies,” he said. “But on Trans Mountain, they are really trying to pull the wool over our eyes about their phoney fight for pipelines.”

Kenney said if he were Alberta's next premier, he would immediately bring in “turn-off-the-taps” legislation allowing the province to scale back exports of its crude to B.C. if the government there continued to obstruct the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“We will make it very clear to the NDP government in Victoria that if they continue their campaign of obstruction we will be prepared to turn off the flow of Alberta energy to B.C.'s Lower Mainland.”

Kenney said gasoline prices have hit an all-time high of $1.67 a litre in B.C. and he predicted they would remain high if Alberta were to turn off the taps.

© 2019 The Canadian Press