Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an icon of progressive politics who has promised to " put a price on pollution ." Last week, to much applause, he proposed a ban on single-use plastics. On Monday night, his government declared a national "climate emergency."
He is also the public face of a Canadian plan to expand a pipeline that would triple the amount of crude oil that moves from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific
Trudeau's Liberal government announced Tuesday that it will push ahead with the stalled Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, a $ 5.5 billion project that has long pitted the country's energy sector against the concerns of environmental and some indigenous groups.
Trudeau, announcing the decision at a news conference in Ottawa, pledged that any dollar earned from the pipeline will be used to fund projects to power Canada's transition to clean energy
"We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future, "he said. "We need resources to invest in Canadians so they can take advantage of the opportunities created by a rapidly changing economy, here at home and around the world."
The move will be welcomed by the country's struggling oil sector and the many Canadians whose fortunes are tied to it. Landlocked Alberta produces four-fifths of Canadian crude, but it struggles to get it out, and so must settle for sale at steep discounts against global benchmarks ̵
But many Canadians have protested the expansion proposal out of concern for oil spills and the continued promotion of climate-changing fossil fuels. They question whether this is the moment to increase Canadian shipments of oil.
Janet Brown, an independent pollster and political analyst in Calgary, Alberta, said the prime
"The Conservatives do not understand the environment, and the NDP will be the position of the minister as a safe path between the Conservatives on the right and the New Democratic Party on the left. do not understand the economy, "she said. "We, the Liberals, are the party that could do both."
Trudeau remains popular, but his government has been hit hard this year by questions about his handling of the prosecution of a construction company, SNC-Lavalin, from his home province of Quebec and the subsequent expedition of two high-profile and popular cabinet members, Jody Wilson-Raybould – Canada's first indigenous general attorney – and Jane Philpott, the former president of the Treasury Board
The SNC-Lavalin scandal has exposed Trudeau to the toughest criticism of his short political career.
The liberal government has become a global leader in the climate when your economy relies so heavily on the extraction of fossil fuels
long argued that to tackle climate change, Canada needs a strong energy sector, generating revenue today to fund the projects of tomorrow
That has been a tough sell, at least when it comes to pipelines. Trudeau first gave the go-ahead for the Trans Mountain expansion in 2016. But the decision spurred legal challenges and protests, including a demonstration at which two members of the Canadian Parliament were arrested
Opposition was particularly fierce in British Columbia, at the end of the pipeline, where Premier John Horgan promised to block the project. Alberta, the oil powerhouse next door, responded by blocking wine imports from British Columbia and threatening to stop shipments of oil and gas to its neighbor
Trudeau stepped in with an extraordinary plan: Buy the pipeline. His government announced last year it would spend $ 3.5 billion to take over the project.
Canada's finance minister, Bill Morneau, called the "investment in Canada's future." Alberta cheered the move.
Still others wonder if transporting oil to the Pacific coast is the best way to bolster the sector. Trudeau said Tuesday his goal was to reduce Canada's reliance on the United States as a customer and to increase shipments to new buyers, especially in Asia
"As we've seen over the past few years," he said, happen with our neighbors to the south. "
But there is no guarantee that business will be better elsewhere, and recent bad blood with China casts further doubt on the plans. Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, B.C., in December at the behest of the United States; China has since charged two Canadians there with spying and blocked some Canadian imports
Tuesday's announcement reignites the debate over the economy vs.
Brown, the Alberta pollster, said she saw a delay in the construction,
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and longtime Trudeau critic, expressed similar concern
On Tuesday, he said he "appreciates" the re -approval but is anxious to see shovels in the ground.
"We wrote on Twitter," We need to get a fair price for our country's energy to create good jobs and pay for public services. "Approval is not construction. So now let's get it built! "
Others, of course, would welcome a delay. Wilson-Raybould, the former general attorney who has clashed with Trudeau and now sits in Parliament as an independent, warned ahead of the announcement that re-approving the project would do little to resolve the conflict.
"It has been famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, "she wrote ahead of the announcement. "I expect that is what we will see this week, as the government chooses to try to proceed, again, in a context of ongoing conflict and mistrust."
"A day after the Liberals declare climate emergency, Trudeau approves the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline – a project directly threatening our environment, "tweeted Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the NDP . "It does not have to be this way. We will continue to champion a plan that aggressively & honestly fights this crisis. "