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Trudeau gives his definition of 'national interest': Chris Hall

Trudeau gives his definition of 'national interest': Chris Hall
From CBC - April 16, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave his definition of the national interest on Sunday, and it begins with a hotly-disputed pipeline expansion that he's determined to see built.

Kinder Morgan's proposed $7.4-billion project to triple the flow of Alberta bitumen through its Trans Mountain line is rapidly becoming a symbol of a new generation of constitutional discord and western alienation in this country. It also threatens to become a serious obstacle to the prime minister's efforts to repair relations with at least some of this country's Indigenous people.

Yet there Trudeau was on Sunday, after a brief and apparently harmonious meeting with the feuding NDP premiers of British Columbia and Alberta, repeating his commitment to see the pipeline expansion through and, in the process, irretrievably committing himself and his government to that cause.

The prime minister said negotiations will get under way soon that could see hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money committed to the outcome.

He's promising legislation that will give Ottawa total control over the project, which runs from Alberta's oilsands to port in the Vancouver area, overriding anything British Columbia might introduce to, say, protect the province's coastline or to limit the amount of bitumen than can flow through that pipeline inside its border.

"This is something Canadians expect us to do and quite frankly international investors who look at creating jobs in Canada want to see us able to do," Trudeau told reporters, arguing this country ca not afford to continue selling its energy projects at a steep discount to its primary customers in in the U.S.

But his determination does not end there.

Trudeau's even willing to risk alienating Indigenous communities in B.C.'s Lower Mainland who insist his government failed in its duty to consult them, and to get their free and informed consent as set out in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

The obvious question is why?

Trudeau betting supporters outweigh opposers

Why is Justin Trudeau investing so much in a single pipeline that his officials met on Friday in Toronto with Kinder Morgan executives, who issued the threat to abandon the project while the prime minister was travelling to a vigil in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, for the hockey players and others killed in that tragic bus accident, and who can still walk away from it on May 31 if they are not satisfied?

"We are one country with a federal government that is there to ensure the national interest is upheld," Trudeau told reporters after Sunday's meeting.

At least part of the reason is that the government believes opponents of the project, while vocal, are outnumbered by those who support it. Another is that investors of all kinds are worried by the uncertain business climate this dispute is creating.

"It is the right thing for Canada. For the economy. For hard-working Canadians who work in the industry," says Tim McMillan, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "Their voices are being heard and that has not happened in a long time."

Situation is 'completely unfathomable'

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