Request for Keystone XL cabinet documents blocked by UCP MLAs
Premier Jason Kenney under fire for pipeline project investment after U.S. revokes permit
United Conservative MLAs defeated a motion proposed by the NDP on Tuesday that would have asked cabinet to release confidential information it considered before investing up to $7.5 billion in the Keystone XL pipeline.
The motion, proposed by Kathleen Ganley, NDP MLA for Calgary-Mountain View, at a meeting of the public accounts committee, called on cabinet to waive confidentiality and release information including any legal opinions and analysis of risk.
The UCP used its majority on the committee to kill the motion.
"It's clear this an attempt to cover up, plain and simple," Ganley said at a news conference following the meeting.
Last week, incoming President Joe Biden acted on a campaign promise and revoked the permit allowing construction of the pipeline on U.S. territory.
- Alberta premier calls Biden's XL cancellation a 'gut punch' for U.S.-Canada trade relationship
- How political symbolism brought down Keystone XL
Project proponent TC Energy halted work immediately and laid off 1,000 workers. Kenney is now facing questions for investing taxpayer money in Keystone XL when Biden made his intentions about the project clear during the U.S. election campaign.
The Alberta government agreed to invest $1.5 billion and provide TC Energy with up to $6 billion in loan guarantees.
'Veneer of transparency'
Following the defeat of Ganley's motion, Miranda Rosin, UCP MLA for Banff-Kananaskis, proposed a motion asking for the Energy Ministry to release financial data on the Keystone XL deal, minus confidential contractual information.
She noted the same concerns were invoked about the crude-by-rail deal signed by the previous NDP government. Details of those contracts were not released to the public.
"This motion will ensure that the financials and the cost exposure to Albertans and to taxpayers is released and made public and made fully transparent while also ensuring we don't breach any confidentiality between TC Energy Corporation and us," Rosin said.
The motion was passed by the UCP majority on the committee.
Marlin Schmidt, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar, accused his UCP committee colleagues of engaging in "performance art with the intent of appearing to be transparent while not actually providing any transparency to the people of Alberta."
Schmidt said information the UCP is proposing to release will be available to the public through next month's budget. The NDP motion went further by seeking advice the premier and cabinet received about the risks involved with investing in the pipeline project.
"We're trying to get at what executive council knew, when they knew it and look at all of the information they had in front of them before they made this very expensive bet on Keystone XL," Schmidt said.
Ganley said the documents are sensitive politically, not commercially.
"This motion, as it is proposed, is not a serious look at this deal," she said. "It is a motion to give a veneer of transparency.
"It makes publicly available, publicly-available information. I mean, what is the point of that?"
Kenney wants the federal government to push the United States to compensate Alberta and TC Energy for cancelling the project.