Kenney supports Notley's pitch to have Alberta invest in Trans Mountain pipeline

Alberta United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said ​he would support Premier Rachel Notley's proposal to invest in Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, shortly after the oil company announced it would suspend non-essential activities on the project

But the UCP leader maintains the Alberta NDP government has contributed to the predicament

Jason Kenney blamed inaction from Alberta's NDP and the federal government on Kinder Morgan's announcement it was suspending "non-essential" work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (CBC)

Alberta United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said ​he would support Premier Rachel Notley's proposal to invest in Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a suggestion the premier made Sunday after the oil company announced it would suspend non-essential activities on the project.

"I believe the Government of Alberta must be prepared, along with the federal government, to step up and provide financial certainty to the investors of Kinder Morgan," Kenney told in a press conference in Edmonton.

"I would be prepared in principle for the Alberta government to take an equity position in this project in the expansion of Trans Mountain. But if we do so, Ottawa has to be there with us."

Notley had strong words for both the federal and B.C. governments on Sunday, threatening serious economic consequences against B.C.

"Maybe the government of B.C. feels they can mess with Texas — and who knows, maybe they can. But let me be absolutely clear. They cannot mess with Alberta," the premier said. 

'Economic emergency'

Kenney called the regulatory and court hold-ups on the project "an economic emergency for Alberta." 

Kinder Morgan said it would not "put stakeholders at risk," and would consult with interested parties to reach agreements before May 31 to allow the project to proceed. 

The company said $1.1 billion had been spent on the $7.4-billion project since its initial filing with the National Energy Board in 2013. 

"If we can't get this project built it means we will strand hundreds of billions of dollars of value for future generations. The ability to pay for our pensions, our health care, our quality of life as Canadians," said Kenney. 

The UCP leader said that because the pipeline was approved by the National Energy Board, he feels it's unacceptable that the federal government hasn't intervened by asking B.C. to "obviate any other illegal stall tactics."

He also accused Alberta's NDP government of not taking strong enough actions against B.C.'s NDP government.

"We have an NDP government here in Edmonton that has fumbled the ball from Day One," Kenney said. "They are aligned fundamentally and philosophically with the New Democrats in B.C., the New Democrats in Vancouver, the Government of Burnaby, the Government of Coquitlam ... they don't really understand what they're fighting for here. 

The expansion, if built, would triple the oil flowing along its route from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., to a capacity of about 890,000 barrels per day.

No 'blank cheque', say Liberals

Liberal Leader David Khan also said they would support investment that would allow the pipeline do go ahead, albeit with some conditions. 

"While the Alberta Liberal Party does not support subsidizing private enterprise, we recognize the importance of this pipeline as a national infrastructure project. We therefore support, in principle, a public investment in this pipeline project by both the Federal Government and the Government of Alberta if that is necessary to ensure the pipeline is built," said Khan in a release.

"However, our support is contingent on the Government of Alberta committing to report annually on Alberta's oil sands region through a transparent, full cost accounting framework, including both reclamation liabilities and greenhouse gas emissions, to ease public concerns, improve accountability, and increase confidence in this pipeline project both at home and abroad.

"We also want the details of a public investment in this project and the resulting ownership stake and financial benefits to Albertans; we do not support writing a blank cheque to Kinder Morgan."

Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel also reacted to Kinder Morgan's announcement, tweeting out a succinct "Congratulations, Justin Trudeau" in response to the company's press release.

And UCP MLA Prasad Panda criticized both Notley and Trudeau for not taking enough action to push the pipeline expansion through. 

The CEO of Calgary-based energy company Cenovus also shared strong words with the federal government in response to the suspension.

"If the rule of law is not upheld and this project is allowed ot fail, it will have a chilling effect on investment not just in British Columbia, but across the entire country," said Alex Pourbaix. 

A pipeline at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project in Burnaby, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

About 200 people, including Indigenous leaders and prominent environmental activists, have been arrested in protests around Trans Mountain facilities in B.C. since mid-March.

Critics of the project point to Canada's climate change targets, increased oil tanker traffic and risk of spills as concerns. 

Mike Hudema, Greenpeace's climate and energy campaigner, said Kinder Morgan's action is a signal of what's to come.

"The writing is on the wall, and even Kinder Morgan can read it. Investors should note that the opposition to this project is strong, deep and gets bigger by the day," Hudema told CBC News. 

With files from CBC Edmonton, CBC British Columbia