In the small town of Sundre, business is booming.
Reports from one of our sister papers, the Sundre Round Up, say the construction of TransCanada’s relatively short 21-kilometre gas pipeline has been a boon to the local economy. Hotels are full, grocery and liquor store business is booming and the town is full of visitors from other provinces. The project is going to employ 400-500 workers, with workers from Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia working alongside workers from Alberta. It’s a $99 million project that’s expected to pump millions into the Sundre economy.
Now imagine the Sundre project on steroids: That’s what we’re talking about when it comes to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion by Kinder Morgan. It’s an upgrade on an existing pipeline that runs from Strathcona County to Burnaby, B.C. It’s a $7.4 billion project that looks to twin a 1,150-km pipeline creating thousands of jobs – 15,000 for construction alone – and add billions to the economies of Alberta, B.C. and the country as a whole over decades.
The project has had to jump through many hoops along the way and has been approved by the National Energy Board. But somehow this isn’t enough for B.C. Premier John Horgan. He wants further study on the impact of a spill, attempting to stall the project and hope Kinder Morgan gives up. Everyone sees through this political ploy, which can not only impact the Trans Mountain expansion but also create problems for future investment.
For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated unequivocally that the project will be built. But we may need more than that.
This is nearing the point of constitutional crisis. Horgan’s rhetoric can have real life consequences on investor confidence and will hurt the province of Alberta. Premier Rachel Notley knows that, which is why she imposed sanctions on our neighbouring province – a ban on B.C. wines. It was an act to send a message not only to B.C., but also to Trudeau. This is a serious issue and the dispute goes against the very idea of Confederation.
If B.C. tries to stall this project, Trudeau will need to take action and he can start by denouncing Horgan’s actions. Clearly he is hesitant to do this as it create all kinds of problems politically. The stakes are high and B.C. currently boasts 18 Liberal MPs compared to Alberta’s three. Still, Alberta contributes millions to the country as a whole, more than any other province from 2007-2015 according to a Fraser Institute report. Trudeau has an obligation to act in the national interest first and overrule individual provinces if they step out of line.
Think of all those workers coming from all across Canada to work in Sundre, at a pipeline that is a mere fraction of the size of the Trans Mountain expansion. The Trans Mountain pipeline is a big deal and it needs to be treated as such. We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from politicians on all sides, but ultimately, actions speak louder than words. We can’t afford further delay.