POLITICS
04/09/2018 13:12 EDT | Updated 04/09/2018 13:37 EDT

Andrew Scheer: Trudeau 'Squarely' To Blame As Kinder Morgan Halts Pipeline

The prime minister has long maintained the pipeline will be built.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer stands during question period on Parliament Hill on Feb. 28, 2018.

Federal Conservatives wasted no time blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Kinder Morgan's decision to suspend work on its Trans Mountain pipeline, even as the company lauds federal support for the project.

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer released a statement Sunday targeting Liberals — and not the British Columbia NDP government of John Horgan — for what he called "devastating news" for the energy sector.

"The blame for this development rests squarely on the shoulders of Justin Trudeau. He has failed to take a single concrete step to ensure this project is completed. All he has done is give us empty words with no action," Scheer said.

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The Tory leader argued Trudeau did not "champion" the Trans Mountain pipeline and suggested the federal plan to phase in a price on carbon pollution only makes such projects harder. Scheer noted that Trudeau said the oilsands need to be "phased out," remarks for which the prime minister said he "misspoke" last year.

Scheer also criticized Trudeau for refusing to greenlight the Northern Gateway pipeline and said the prime minister "killed the Energy East pipeline with last minute rule changes" and regulations.

Tories similarly hammered Trudeau after TransCanada cancelled the Energy East project last year, in part because the federal government wanted regulators to consider the potential greenhouse gas emissions of producing and processing the oil that the pipeline would carry.

"Considering the Prime Minister's track record of failure, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Kinder Morgan is now suspending work on the Trans Mountain Expansion project," he said.

"Canadians deserve a government that will actually get the job done."

Kinder Morgan appreciates 'support shown by the federal government'

Yet when Kinder Morgan announced the decision to halt "non-essential activities" on the project Sunday, the company cited B.C.'s "continued active opposition" and legal challenges to the project.

"We appreciate the support shown by the Federal Government and the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and are grateful for the strong endorsements among the majority of communities along the route and 43 Indigenous communities, as well as customers, contractors and unions," Kinder Morgan Canada's CEO Steve Kean said in a release.

"The fact remains that a substantial portion of the Project must be constructed through British Columbia, and since the change in government in June 2017, that government has been clear and public in its intention to use 'every tool in the toolbox' to stop the Project.

"The uncertainty created by BC has not been resolved but instead has escalated into an inter-governmental dispute."

HuffPost Canada reached out to Trudeau's office to respond to Scheer's claim.

The Liberal government approved the project, which would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., in 2016. The prime minister has repeatedly said the pipeline will be built but has faced calls from Tory MPs to be more vocal in advocating for the project.

Last week, hundreds of anti-pipeline protesters demonstrated outside a Trudeau fundraising event in Vancouver. A young Indigenous leader interrupted the prime minister's speech to accuse Trudeau of lying to his people.

A day later in Fort McMurray, Alta., Trudeau promoted his government's efforts to get pipelines built and reiterated that the Kinder Morgan project would go forward.

"Moving our resources to greater markets is a greater priority, not just for Albertans, but for Canadians, and we are going to do that in a responsible way," he said.

Trudeau is facing pressure from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to take concrete action to resolve the dispute.

"A federal approval of a project must be worth more than the paper it's written on,'' Notley said Sunday.

Jason Kenney, the former Tory minister who now leads Alberta's United Conservative Party, is calling on the feds to withhold transfer payments to B.C.

After Kinder Morgan announced its decision Sunday, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr released a statement calling on the B.C. government to "end all threats to delay" the Trans Mountain expansion.

At a press conference on Parliament Hill, Carr said it was no time for any province to be "reckless with the financial well-being of Canadians and for the fabric of the federation itself."

Yet when asked what steps the federal government could take to break the impasse, Carr merely said "all options are on the table."

With files from The Canadian Press