Rachel Notley says Indigenous pipeline consultation without deadline is necessary
Chances 'very slim' that construction on Trans Mountain will resume before spring election, says Jason Kenney
Premier Rachel Notley says Ottawa's constitutional duty to consult with Indigenous people means there can't be a hard deadline placed on the additional consultation on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
The latest phase of consultation was announced Wednesday by Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi. The process, led by retired Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci, does not have a timeline.
In Edmonton, Notley said a restart of construction may be delayed past next summer.
- Ottawa won't appeal Trans Mountain court decision, appoints former judge for consultations
- Ottawa gives pipeline regulator 22 weeks to review Trans Mountain expansion project
- Timeline: Key dates in the history of the Trans Mountain pipeline
"I'd like to see construction resume next year at some point," she said, "but at the end of the day we know that the constitutional obligation to consult with Indigenous people is such that it must be defined by the consultations. It cannot be defined by an arbitrary timeline."
Sohi also announced Ottawa has decided not to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that brought construction to a standstill in late August.
Notley expressed frustration that avenue has been closed as it could have served as the government's backup plan.
"As far as I'm concerned their job is to keep all options open," she said. "Or to put it another way, you don't lock up your tool box when you haven't finished the job and the job's not finished yet."
'Empty words' from premier, Kenney says
Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta's Official Opposition United Conservative Party, blamed Notley for Ottawa's decision not to appeal the ruling and not introducing enabling legislation.
He criticized her for offering "empty words" in response.
"If our NDP government wanted to show that they mean business on the pipeline then they would repeat what [Premier] Brian Pallister in Manitoba did today and repeal the NDP carbon tax," he said.
Kenney said he thinks the chances pipeline construction will resume before the spring election are "very slim."
Notley said a considerable amount of work was done in the first review, so the additional consultation period may not take too much time. She offered her oft-repeated assertion that the pipeline will be built.
The additional consultation with Indigenous people meets one shortcoming addressed by the Federal Court of Appeal ruling.
Last month, Sohi said the National Energy Board would spend another 22 weeks gathering information on how the project could affect coast waters and the resident killer whale population.
Notley expressed her frustration that the $40 billion LNG Canada project is getting a much-easier ride from environmentalists and the B.C. government even though she says it will increase tanker traffic more than the Trans Mountain expansion.
"I think Albertans can be forgiven for being extremely frustrated with the way the federation is working right now," she said. "Because there is a high level of jaw-dropping hypocrisy that is being demonstrated through that process."
Late Monday, five investors from five countries signed on to the project, which would liquefy B.C. natural gas at a new processing plant in Kitimat, allowing export to overseas markets.
Construction is expected to start immediately as all the required approvals have been granted.