The news that the federal Liberal government has approved the Trans Mountain (TMX) pipeline isn’t just good news from the economic perspective.
Obviously, approval of TMX is great news for the Alberta economy in particular, as it will be oilsands oil that will be flowing through that pipeline in, hopefully, the not-too-distant future.
In turn, good news for the Saskatchewan even if it’s not our oil that will directly benefit.
Any positive development in the oil sector in Alberta now means good news for the oil sector here — arguably, a change when most of the oil development happened to the west of us. Now, whatever can be done expand our oil customer base beyond the U.S. is a good thing for everyone.
Also, anything that gets oil off the rails is good for not only Saskatchewan oil but also for potash, grain and oil seed/pulse crop movement.
Premier Scott Moe has certainly made all these arguments in his lobby for TMX.
And it now appears that Moe — who has opposed most everything Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done — seem to be on the same page — when it comes to the need to see TMX as better, safer alternative.
Moe called the announcement good news because “TMX crucial to our energy sector, market access and jobs.”
“We need to create wealth today, so we can invest in the future,” Trudeau said while making the announcement, noting that his government already approved the twinning of this pipeline.
After examining the effect TMX would have on the marine environment and meeting with 65 indigenous groups, Trudeau said he believes his government has met all concerns.
“We listened to community concerns and we are acting on community ideas,” he said. “Now, it’s time to take the next step.”
That means “shovels in the ground this construction season,” the Prime Minister said, vowing to invest the extra $500 million in annual tax revenue from the pipeline into clean energy.
Not surprisingly, this announcement was met with outrage from the federal NDP and environmentalists, who would never be satisfied with anything short of cancelation of the project.
But while Moe was still eager to reiterate his criticism of the federal government over Bills C-69 and C-48 a — the bills, respectively, imposing environmental restrictions on major project developments like pipelines and restrictions on West Coast tankers — the agreement on TMX is a definite positive.
In a very real way, the renewed approval for TMX may bring a bit sanity back into political debate.
It was just a week earlier that Moe and Alberta United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney were framing these questions as a matter of national unity.
“It is the Prime Minister who is threatening national unity through his stunning combination of arrogance and indifference to the concerns of Canada’s energy and industrial sectors, and the thousands of hardworking people these sectors employ in communities across the nation,” Moe said in a prepared statement just five days before the TMX announcement.
Ironically, Moe’s comments also came the day that the Courts ruled that Husky Oil needed to shell out $3.8 million for damages from their pipeline oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River three years ago.
It was a reminder that there is always a need for a balance needed in government — in this case, between economic interests and environmental ones.
It’s clear that hasn’t been happening under the Trudeau government. But it would only be fair to say that Moe and company haven’t exactly added much balance and reason to the debate, either.
With this TMX approval, maybe we can finally get past the nonsensical rhetoric and move forward on what needs to get done in this country.
Murray Mandryk has been covering provincial politics for over 22 years.