Trans Mountain ruling fuels anger, fear in Alberta oilpatch

Thursday's ruling on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is fuelling anger and fear in Alberta's oilpatch.

'The oil supply that Alberta provides really is in the national interest'

Gary Savard with Ironworkers Local 720 says members are worried about how they'll pay their bills. (CBC/David Bajer)

The Trans Mountain pipeline court ruling is not just fuelling anger in Alberta's oilpatch — but also fear.

At the Ironworkers Local 720 in Edmonton, business agent Gary Savard said many members are now asking how they will pay their bills. 

In an already-struggling industry where construction on larger projects such as Suncor Fort Hills have wrapped up, Trans Mountain offered hope, even if it was a year or two away.

"They were hoping for some relief ... Now they don't know," said Savard. "A lot of our members are feeling some anger toward the federal government, thinking maybe they could do more."

On Thursday, not long after construction began on the 1,150-kilometre project, work came to a halt after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed cabinet approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project. 

A panel of three judges unanimously ruled that the federal government failed to properly consult with concerned Indigenous groups, as required by law. The court also concluded that the National Energy Board did not adequately address the impact of tanker traffic on an endangered whale population.

Premier Rachel Notley called on the federal government to immediately appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada and call recall Parliament for an emergency session.
Dave Jorgensen says the oil supply that Alberta provides is in the national interest. (CBC/David Bajer)

At the Nisku Tim Horton's, Dave Jorgensen, a retired vice-principal who has lived in the area for decades, said he hoped efforts by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Notley would "jump-start the process" through an emergency session or the lobbying other premiers.

"This to me just smacks of pacific privilege," said Jorgensen. "Nobody wants to stand on a tub and thump but certainly I think there is a level of anxiety that I've never seen before."

Jorgensen said environmental assessments are an important part of the process but expressed concern they were done without an understanding of the economic implications.

"The oil supply that Alberta provides really is in the national interest," said Jorgensen. "This path we're on right now will not only compromise the economy of Alberta but will compromise the Canadian economy."