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.
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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.
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"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.
"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."
During a leaders debate on Thursday, United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney suggested that Notley has foolishly tied Alberta's fortunes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government by introducing a carbon tax.
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.Rachel Notley
In return, Kenny said, Trudeau has hindered Alberta's bedrock industry with a ban on tankers off the northern B.C. coast and proposed legislation that Kenney says could hinder approvals for future energy projects.
Kenney said Trudeau has also bungled the Trans Mountain expansion to get more Alberta oil to the B.C. coast. The project has been delayed by court challenges and rulings.
The federal government stepped in last year to buy the project to help ensure it gets built.