Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being blasted by his chief rivals as both a bungler of resource projects and failed climate leader after seeing his approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion overturned in court.
On Thursday, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Trudeau government's 2016 greenlight of a contentious expansion of the pipeline, which runs from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. The decision cited a flawed review by the National Energy Board and the failure of Ottawa to meaningfully consult First Nations.
The stunning news did nothing to deter Finance Minister Bill Morneau from saying the government will press forward with its plan to buy the pipeline and expansion assets from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion. Liberals "inherited a flawed environmental review process" from the previous Tory government, he said, and have worked to improve things.
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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh each held press conferences to hammer Trudeau — but for different reasons.
Speaking in Winnipeg, Scheer called the decision "devastating news" for energy workers and "another gut punch" for Canadian taxpayers.
The ruling showed the Trudeau government could not hit "the standards that it imposed on itself," the Tory leader said.
"This was a $4.9 billion acquisition with no plan for completion. And today we find out that the goalposts have been missed again by this Trudeau government," he said.
But the Tory leader ducked a question on whether the government should walk away from its purchase and face financial penalties. He called it a "sad state of affairs" that such an option is part of the conversation.
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Read our #TrackingTransMountain series.
Scheer also said he was "quite confident" a Tory government would have consulted Indigenous communities about the project in a meaningful way, but didn't offer specifics.
The Tory leader was perhaps more aggressive in a statement he released to media, saying the project was "quickly becoming the most expensive scandal" in Canadian political history.
"This is Justin Trudeau's personal failure," he said in the release.
Singh, meanwhile, told reporters in Ottawa that the Trudeau government did not consider what the project would mean to coastal communities and marine life in B.C., including a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic. He also cited past Trans Mountain spills.
"Climate leaders don't buy or expand pipelines," he said.
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Singh does not hold a federal seat but is running in the upcoming byelection in Burnaby South. The city of Burnaby unsuccessfully pushed the Supreme Court to stop the project.
The NDP leader said the Liberal government failed to respect Indigenous rights and must now stop fighting First Nations in court.
"The government should never have bought this pipeline," he said. "No matter what the Liberal government says it is clear to Canadians that this is not a sound investment."
Singh called on the Trudeau government to stop the expansion and "explore all legal options" to end the purchase.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who was arrested in March protesting the pipeline, told CBC News that the Liberals can either start from scratch with a new environmental review and consultations with Indigenous communities, or cut their losses.
'Kinder Morgan is going to laugh its way to the bank'
"Like any prospective homeowner about to buy a house that finds the foundation is cracked, find a way to get out of the contract," May said. "Pay penalties if you have to. But don't go ahead with buying a $4.5 billion leaky pipeline that is 65 years old."
Calling the situation a "nightmare of their own making," May said Liberals need to abandon a situation that is not "fixable" and stop throwing good money after bad.
"There's no reason to continue to play the sucker in this scenario," she said. "Kinder Morgan is going to laugh its way to the bank. Let's not let that happen."
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