Canada Trudeau's pipeline dilemma: lose seats in B.C., or lose a lot more elsewhere

13:52  13 april  2018
13:52  13 april  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

Trudeau travels to B.C. in support of pipeline

  Trudeau travels to B.C. in support of pipeline Trudeau travels to B.C. in support of pipelineThey chanted "Kinder Morgan has got to go" as they marched several blocks through downtown to a hotel where the Liberals were meeting.

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

a close up of a man: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension will go ahead — but how great a political price is he willing to pay?© Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension will go ahead — but how great a political price is he willing to pay?

(Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.)

Finding the right political balance between the environment and the economy isn't easy for any party. For Justin Trudeau's Liberal government, it's especially awkward.

The dispute over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is only the most recent — and potentially the most volatile — example of this problem.

Jagmeet Singh Says Liberals Should Take Kinder Morgan Pipeline Issue To Supreme Court

  Jagmeet Singh Says Liberals Should Take Kinder Morgan Pipeline Issue To Supreme Court Jagmeet Singh Says Liberals Should Take Kinder Morgan Pipeline Issue To Supreme CourtIt's aimed at a fast-track resolution of issues arising from B.C.'s objections to the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

British Columbia's government doesn't want the project to go ahead. Both the federal government and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley argue that the pipeline expansion is in the national interest and say B.C. Premier John Horgan should back down.

Adding to the urgency is the deadline imposed by Kinder Morgan, the company behind the project. It wants government assurances by the end of next month that the pipeline can be built.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Trudeau will sit down with Horgan and Notley in Ottawa for a meeting that will require an unscheduled pit stop between the prime minister's trips to Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, also trying to mediate between two NDP premiers, wants the federal government to join B.C. in a Supreme Court reference to decide on jurisdictional issues. The federal Conservatives have long called for Trudeau to do more to get B.C. to drop its actions against the pipeline.

Pipeline isn't about 'punishing' B.C., it's about what's in the national interest, Trudeau says

  Pipeline isn't about 'punishing' B.C., it's about what's in the national interest, Trudeau says Pipeline isn't about 'punishing' B.C., it's about what's in the national interest, Trudeau says "This is not about punishing British Columbians, this is not about hurting Canadians, this is about bringing forward a project in the national interest," he said.

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

READ MORE : Kinder Morgan halts Trans Mountain pipeline expansion amid B . C . opposition. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ’ s cabinet is in Ottawa Tuesday “There’s not a lot ( B . C .) can do, in my view, that would withstand scrutiny if challenged in court,” said University of Waterloo politics professor and

The Liberals say that all options are on the table, but insist that the pipeline will get built.

If they're right — if the Trans Mountain expansion is built — the Liberals can expect to pay a political price for it in British Columbia, where the project is deeply controversial. But would they stand to lose more support in B.C. if the pipeline goes ahead than they might in the rest of the country if it doesn't?

Lots to lose in B.C.'s Lower Mainland

On the face of it, the electoral calculation looks simple. In the 2015 federal election, the Liberals won four seats in Alberta, where the pipeline is very popular. But they won 17 in B.C. (and added an 18th in a byelection late last year).

Opinions on the pipeline are divided in B.C. A recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that British Columbians are split down the middle on whether the provincial government is right to delay the Trans Mountain expansion.

Prime Minister, premiers meet over controversial Trans Mountain pipeline

  Prime Minister, premiers meet over controversial Trans Mountain pipeline Prime Minister, premiers meet over controversial Trans Mountain pipeline“It's a pleasure to be sitting down with the premiers this morning. We have important discussions ahead, and I’m looking forward to it,” Trudeau said at the outset of the session with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

Demonstrator Emma Pullman says the crowd wanted to show Trudeau that there is a lot of opposition to the project, and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built. The prime minister also visited Victoria on Thursday

On the pipeline itself, 23 per cent of British Columbians said they strongly support it, while another 24 per cent say they strongly oppose it.

a group of people walking down the street: B.C. Premier John Horgan has to speak for his supporters who oppose pipelines. Notley has to speak for the energy sector. Singh is caught in the middle.© Dillon Hodgin/CBC B.C. Premier John Horgan has to speak for his supporters who oppose pipelines. Notley has to speak for the energy sector. Singh is caught in the middle.

But opinions are not uniform throughout the province. A poll by Insights West conducted last fall found that British Columbians in the Lower Mainland were twice as likely to strongly oppose the pipeline than they were to strongly support it. In the B.C. Interior, where resource industries are major employers, more respondents strongly supported the pipeline than strongly opposed it.

Only one of the Liberals' 18 seats in B.C. is located in the Interior. The other 17 are in the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland.

So the Liberals have a lot more to lose in the Lower Mainland than in the rest of British Columbia and in all of Alberta — where the four seats the party won in 2015 likely amount to the best the party can reasonably expect there in the current political climate.

Trudeau meeting Sunday with B.C., Alberta premiers over Trans Mountain impasse

  Trudeau meeting Sunday with B.C., Alberta premiers over Trans Mountain impasse The Prime Minister's Office says Justin Trudeau will sit down Sunday with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in an effort to hash out a solution to the ongoing dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Spokesperson Chantal Gagnon says Trudeau, who is on his way to Peru for the Summit of the Americas, will return to Ottawa for the meeting before resuming his travels to Paris and London on Monday.

Notley called on Trudeau to take more “concrete action” to get the pipeline built, adding that “Clearly, investors have lost confidence in this project and are waking up to the reality that the Kinder Morgan pipeline will never be built,” said Sven Biggs, energy and climate campaigner for Stand.earth.

Emma Pullman, campaign manager with SumOfUs, said the protest is intended to show Trudeau that there is a lot opposition to the project and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B . C . if the pipeline is built.

But this it isn't a simple matter of comparing the Liberals' meagre electoral prospects in Alberta to their more significant ones in British Columbia.

More to lose outside of B.C.?

Though the pipeline is a top-of-mind concern for British Columbians and Albertans, failing to get the project completed could have consequences for Liberals nationwide.

A poll commissioned by the Ecofiscal Commission and conducted by Abacus Data recently found that 60 per cent of Canadians agreed that "Canada should continue to develop its oil and gas resources and get them to markets while we are using carbon pricing and other measures to transition to a lower carbon future." Another 40 per cent of those polled agreed that the country needs "to take measures to greatly slow or stop development and transmission of oil and gas."

That 40 per cent is a significant minority, but it's already being fought over by the NDP, the Greens and (in Quebec) the Bloc Québécois. The Liberals' entire strategy of balancing the economy with the environment is aimed at the other 60 per cent.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Hundreds gathered outside the McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary on Tuesday to rally for the Trans Mountain pipeline project.© Mark Matulis/CBC Hundreds gathered outside the McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary on Tuesday to rally for the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

This suggests that failure to get the Trans Mountain project completed could disappoint those Canadians who feel that the development and export of oil and gas is an important part of the country's economy. It could leave the Liberals looking like bad economic stewards and convince more voters that economic growth and a cleaner environment aren't two sides of the same policy coin.

Trans Mountain 'will be built': Notley

  Trans Mountain 'will be built': Notley Trans Mountain 'will be built': NotleyAs a result, Notley says, the pipeline "will be built," although she refused to provide details.

However, the Liberals are also looking to gain more seats in Alberta in the next election, in addition Conservatives say Trudeau missed a huge opportunity to save the Trans Mountain pipeline last ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant loses K after mispronouncing 'flamenco'. April 10, 2018 12:55 pm.

The B . C . premier said he also spoke to Trudeau and planned to speak to Notley Kinder Morgan has to get construction of the pipeline underway by the end of May or it will likely lose out on another Notley called on Trudeau to take more "concrete action" to get the pipeline built, adding that

In other words, the wheels come off Trudeau's plan to put a price on carbon if he doesn't also have a new pipeline to offer. And with provincial politicians like Jason Kenney in Alberta and Doug Ford in Ontario poised to become big players on the national stage, the prime minister doesn't need to give them any more ammunition in their fight against carbon pricing.

Not everyone likes a compromise

The hastily organized meeting between Trudeau, Notley and Horgan, and the last-minute change in Trudeau's travel plans, suggest the government has concluded it has more to lose nationally than to gain locally by letting Kinder Morgan throw in the towel.

Notley and Horgan have no such calculations to make — particularly Horgan, given that almost all of his party's seats are on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland.

Singh, meanwhile, knows that his party's support is lowest in Alberta , highest in British Columbia. The NDP holds 14 seats in B.C., but just one in Alberta.

In Quebec, where the pipeline is least popular, the New Democrats can't afford to alienate any more voters. By backing B.C.'s request to put the dispute before the courts, Singh has apparently picked his side — and it isn't with Premier Notley, who once called Singh "irrelevant."

a man wearing a suit and tie: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has asked the federal government to join the B.C. government in settling jurisdictional disputes related to the pipeline at the Supreme Court.© Patrick Doyle/Canadian press NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has asked the federal government to join the B.C. government in settling jurisdictional disputes related to the pipeline at the Supreme Court.

The Conservatives' supporters are almost uniformly in favour of the pipeline. They have no need for any compromise at all.

If the Liberals manage it, balancing the economy and the environment is the kind of grand political compromise that can pay off in spades. The Abacus Data survey found that 84 per cent of Canadians say transitioning to a low carbon economy is a good goal, but 75 per cent say that the transition should be managed "in ways that are careful to not drive up the cost of living too much or cost too many jobs."

The alternative would be to repel both those voters who want to see the balancing act succeed and opponents of the pipeline who will not forget that Trudeau supported it.

What's at stake here for the Liberals is not the fate of a few seats in the Lower Mainland, or the party's tenuous hold on its beachheads in Alberta. It's the argument that the prime minister has made, time after time, that — between the NDP and the Conservatives — the Liberals' middle road is the path forward.

Giant pipeline protest greets Justin Trudeau as he arrives in London .
Giant pipeline protest greets Justin Trudeau as he arrives in LondonThe stunt, which blocked the main entrance to the Canadian High Commission, was orchestrated by Greenpeace activists who oppose a multibillion-dollar pipeline planned in western Canada across indigenous lands.

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