British Columbia·Q&A

Trans Mountain is 'the right solution for the country,' says natural resources minister

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr sat down with The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn to discuss pipeline politics and defend his party’s decision.

Jim Carr on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and the national interest

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr sat down with The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

British Columbia and Alberta couldn't be further apart when it comes to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but as the two NDP premiers battle over the project, the federal government continues to voice its clear support. 

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr is in Vancouver for the Globe Forum, a conference designed to help improve the environmental footprint of the economy.

He sat down with The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn to discuss pipeline politics and defend his party's standpoint.

Why is this pipeline in the national interest?

It's in the national interest because it will create thousands of jobs for people right across the country, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta.

It will give us access to expanded markets — 99 per cent of Canada's exported oil and gas goes to one country, the United States. We think we should expand into Asia and the building of this pipeline will allow us to do that and, at the same time, get a much better price for our crude.

Canada is a country that is very well endowed in natural resources, we have to use the resources we have now and take that revenue to help finance the transition to a low carbon economy.     

Opponents of the pipeline expansion will say, given the expansion in tanker traffic, that it's not a question of if there's an accident or incident, it's a matter of when.

I disagree with that.

Let's put it into perspective: there will be one more tanker a day.

Given the amount of traffic and shipping through the Port of Vancouver, which is an internationally leading port, it is a really small increase and it will be a safe increase.

Speaking to a B.C. audience, how do you justify the decision that the federal government sided with Alberta?

It's siding with Canada. We made a decision that is in Canada's interests.

We are a very important producer of energy and we are investing more and more in clean technology and in renewable energy.  

The oil itself is being extracted more sustainably all of the time and we think that as we look to be competitive in the international marketplace toward clean technology, Canada is in a position to lead.

Rachel Notley is threatening to "turn off the tap" and to stop oil shipments to B.C. if the province continues to delay the pipeline. Can she do that?

I don't know what she intends to do, under what circumstances, or the impact, but nobody wants that result.

What we want is to have an understanding in Alberta and in British Columbia about the safe transportation of Alberta crude to a port.

It's hard to get people to agree on far less controversial issues than major energy projects but ultimately, someone has to decide and that's the government of Canada.

What is the government of Canada's role in bringing this dispute between British Columbia and Alberta to an end?

The government of Canada will protect the federal jurisdiction. We've already intervened in a motion at the National Energy Board to make sure that there aren't unnecessary delays.

It's very important that people also understand the economic benefits of this project — $73 billion, which will create revenues for government, including in British Columbia.

We believe that this is the right solution for the country.

This interview aired on The Early Edition on March 16 and has been edited for clarity and structure. To hear the complete interview, click on the audio below.