British Columbia’s former energy minister, now a member of the senate, was able to get his fellow senators to pass a unanimous motion late Tuesday calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “bring the full weight and power of his office” to ensure the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project is built.
Richard Neufeld, an MLA in B.C.’s Peace River North constituency from 1991 to 2009, who served as Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources for eight years, had presented a notice of motion on Feb. 8, two days after the senate held an emergency debate on the current impasse between the B.C. and Alberta governments.
Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley has threatened to block oil and gasoline shipments and to take other actions to force the NDP government of B.C. Premier John Horgan to stop using delaying tactics, including a court challenge, to stop Kinder Morgan Canada from completing construction of the $9-billion-plus project. It would more than double shipments of Alberta crude on the existing pipeline, which has been in operation since the early 1950s.
Sen. Neufeld, who was appointed to the senate by the former Conservative government, said the unanimous approval of his motion was unusual.
“It doesn’t happen that often,” he said. “There were about 40 senators sitting at the time.”
Conservative, Liberal, independent and non-affiliated senators supported the motion, he said. “Senators have united their voices, asking the Prime Minister and the government (to) ensure that the expansion is completed on time and that this commitment is conveyed to the governments of British Columbia and Alberta, in a manner that leaves no doubt as to the federal government’s determination to see the project become fully operational within the present timeline.”
During debate, Sen. Neufeld’s remarks focused on pipeline and tanker safety, two issues that have generated much attention since the pipeline was first approved by the government in November, 2016.
He said he and other senators are hosting an event with industry leaders on Parliament Hill on April 24th to increase public awareness “and debunk some of the myths on the matter."
Sen. Neufeld, who formerly worked in the energy industry and owned an oilfield service related company for 13 years, said the project is too important for the Canadian economy to be further delayed.
“I urge the Prime Minister and his government to provide real leadership in this matter,” he said. “He (Trudeau) needs to remind the BC government that Trans Mountain is the federal government’s responsibility. He needs to tell Premier Horgan to step aside and cease this nonsense. He needs to send a strong message to all Canadians that further delays, disruptions and disorder will not be tolerated.”
He told JWN he fears that the federal government will avoid taking decisive action to make certain the project is built and Kinder Morgan will become discouraged and drop its plans.
“Hopefully this will send a strong message to the prime minister,” he said.
He said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr will appear before the senate next week for question period and he intends to “hold him to account” to compel the government “to stop this B.S. going on in B.C.”
The senate will also soon begin debating Bill S-245, which was introduced by independent Alberta Sen. Doug Black on Feb. 15.
That bill is strongly worded, and is described as “an Act to declare the Trans Mountain project and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada."