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Ottawa/Alberta, Apr 15 (Canadian-Media): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met today with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan to discuss the pipeline issue, media reports said.
Trudeau said his government had the authority to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline is built and is taking the financial and legislative actions needed to make it happen.
"I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project," said Trudeau in Ottawa today
Trudeau added the financial discussions with Kinder Morgan will not be in public and that when he has more details of the financial arrangement he would release them to Canadians.
"I have also informed premiers Notley and Horgan today that we are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the government of Canada's jurisdiction in this matter which we know we clearly have," he added.
Justin Trudeau. Image credit: Official site
Notley had earlier said that her province was also involved in the financial discussions that have already begun with Kinder Morgan.
"Today in the meeting, one of the things that we discussed was that the federal government along with the government of Alberta has commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that will eliminate investor risk," Notley said.
"I am quite confident, that should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built. And that is good because the project is in the national interest."
But Horgan failed to come to a form of consensus with Notley and Trudeau stressing that there needed to be some discussions by "our officials in British Columbia, to work with the federal government to ensure that, for example, when they're applying more resources to the oceans protection plan that they focus on the gaps that we see up the coast."
Trudeau said that his government had invested up to $1.5 billion to increase "responsiveness and resilience" along the West Coast and "put forward proposals on how they would like to see us improve the oceans protection plan... it's something we very much are open to doing."
Improving that plan is also something Notley supports, explaining during Sundays' meeting the three parties had a "robust" discussion about what B.C. was looking for in terms of improvements.
"All Canadians want to do everything that can be done to have best practices in place to actually bring about an improvement in marine safety along the West Coast," she said.
At several points during his news conference Trudeau said B.C. had opposed the project which Trudeau said was in the national interest and added,
"I want to encourage leaders of all stripes to keep one thing in mind as we go forward: B.C.ers and Albertans are not opponents, they are neighbours, they are fellow countrymen and women who want the best for themselves and for each other."
Horgan maintained that he would continue to pursue his province's right to block the pipeline through the courts, saying he would abide by whatever decision was handed down.
"I absolutely believe in the rule of law. All Canadians do. And it's my view that should the courts render a decision that is counter to our position then that is the way it should be."
Notley said her government would pursue its own legal recourse to the dispute, promising legislation to protect her province's resource sector.
Meanwhile Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer weighed in on the issue, saying Trudeau's record proves Canadians can't trust him to get major resource projects completed.
"These new hurdles and extra costs have given investors a very clear signal: Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada," Scheer said.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also pointed out the lack of Indigenous voices.
Horgan says he'd accept the ruling of the courts, even if they don't side with his position.
Tensions over the Trans Mountain expansion have been building since Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential spending on the project last week. The company has given the federal government until May 31 to deliver concrete assurances that the expanded line will get built.
But Notley, during the meeting on Sunday said she was confident that construction timeline could b met.
Kinder Morgan would not provide any clues as to whether it is pleased or upset about the outcome of the meeting.
"Our objectives are to obtain certainty with respect to the ability to construct through B.C. and for the protection of our shareholders in order to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project," the company said in a statement.
"As we said last week, we do not intend to issue updates or further disclosures on the status of consultations until we've reached a sufficiently definitive agreement on or before May 31 that satisfies our objectives."
Trudeau's plans to travel from Lima, Peru, before moving on to London, where he was scheduled to meet the queen changed Thursday, less than an hour before Trudeau's plane was scheduled to take off from Ottawa.
"It became very clear that the level of polarization around this debate required significant measures," Trudeau said Saturday evening during his closing news conference in Lima.
"I wanted to be able to sit down with the premier of British Columbia, the premier of Alberta together, and discuss issues of the national interest and demonstrate the federal government's' commitment to getting this project built."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)