Five next steps needed to complete the Trans Mountain project

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.					Canadian Press Patrick Doyle

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Canadian Press Patrick Doyle

The project would create tens of thousands of jobs in B.C. and Alberta, something Morneau said was of vital importance to Canada's economy.

In an extraordinary move aimed at boosting Canada's tar sands industry in the wake of sharp environmental opposition, the Canadian government said Tuesday that it will spend $3.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and triple its capacity.

Kinder Morgan investors must still vote on the sale, which is scheduled to close in August, but the deal will allow construction to resume immediately, the minister said.

Premier John Horgan says he will continue the fight to protect British Columbia's coast from the consequences of an oil spill regardless of who owns the Trans Mountain pipeline. He wouldn't say which groups were interested in purchasing the project, or if any of them were from the energy sector.

Among the reasons the company cited when it threatened to walk away in April was inordinate permit delays by the city of Burnaby, where the pipeline ends.

"It's the kind of epic disaster of the last century I couldn't imagine a modern government doing, but that's exactly what we are doing", May said.

In a press release, Anna Gerrard of Climate Justice Edmonton said the pipeline purchase is a "misuse of public funds and political power", and that the project is guaranteed to fail.

The two western provinces have been sparring over the pipeline, a situation that Mr Morneau said can not be allowed to "fester".

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has hinted there'll be additional costs to the Trans Mountain project, but says they'll be defrayed by revenue generated by the pipeline itself.

Premier Scott Moe said he hopes Ottawa's plan works.




"We are purchasing the assets; we are purchasing the existing assets, and the investment in the twinning of that pipeline, and those assets are what is required for us to move forward with the expansion", he said.

Alberta's government estimated that pipeline projects like Trans Mountain could stimulate economic growth by as much as 2 percent by 2023. Alberta and British Columbia have also been at odds over the potential environmental risks of the project.

North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson defended the government's decision to buy the pipeline project.

"The good news though is that I now know the owner and have his phone number and I can call him with my concerns", he told CBC on Tuesday.

Many expect that the new federal ownership will help smooth out some of the provincial roadblocks Kinder Morgan faced when it first set out to expand the oil line, including a legal case launched by the BC government and protests from environmentalists and First Nations groups.

"It doesn't matter if it's the Canadian government or profit-making organization, we can directly, physically stop it". Social activist and author Naomi Klein called the government's plans a "desperate scam". "Really the only difference is Kinder Morgan's convinced Canada to pay for the project".

On Monday, she pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in relation to her March arrest during a pipeline protest.

Opposition to the government's proposal comes also from fiscal conservatives, who question the logic behind what they describe as a government bailout.

"Every time that the government has taken over these projects, we've found that they have lost money; they always have been subsidized by taxpayers and those subsidies continue until such time as the federal government gets out of the business". Khelsilem said the decision rewards the Texas-based company and transfers the risk to Canadian taxpayers. The purchase is subject to the approval of Kinder Morgan shareholders.

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