Backing Trans Mountain pipeline will send message to investors, finance minister says

The government's move to push through the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will send a message that Canada is a viable place to invest, the finance minister said.

Kinder Morgan threatened to abandon the project if clarity not reached by May 31

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is holding meetings with Kinder Morgan to try and find a solution to the roadblocks. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The government's move to push through the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will send a message that Canada is a viable place to invest, the finance minister said. 

Kinder Morgan, the company that owns the pipeline, threatened to abandon the project if clarity on the path forward isn't reached by May 31. 

The company's statement came after a months-long standoff between British Columbia and Alberta governments, with the B.C. working to block the pipeline for environmental reasons over Alberta's objections. 

After meeting last week with the two western premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his stance on the pipeline: It's in the national interest, it's getting built. 

He explained that Finance Minister Bill Morneau has now been tasked with speaking with Kinder Morgan executives to find a way to de-risk the expansion — and that the government was willing to potentially offer financial assistance. 

"It also shows to not only investors in Canada but investors around the world that you can get big things done in Canada — that we're a place where we have the rule of law. We're a place where we have federal jurisdiction and when we've gone through a robust process and when the federal government approves it, that we can move forward with a project," Morneau told Wendy Mesley, host of CBC Television's The Weekly

"We've gone through a very significant series of steps to get here, now we want to make sure we can conclude on the project."

However, both Kinder Morgan and government officials have been tight-lipped about what that conclusion might look like. 

Morneau said because of the delicate financial information involved, he's unable to speak publicly about the status of the negotiations.

Even though meetings are ongoing, Kinder Morgan hasn't been optimistic about Morneau's pitch that Canada is a stable place to invest.

The CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada says internal Canadian political squabbles over the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline are signalling that the project may be "untenable."

"It's become clear this particular investment may be untenable for a private party to undertake," Steve Kean said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

"The events of the last 10 days have confirmed those views."

'Failure is not an option here'

This week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced the province would file a legal challenge in the provincial Court of Appeal in the next few weeks to determine if it has jurisdiction over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has put forward legislation that would allow it to turn off the oil taps to B.C., and Saskatchewan has said they will follow suit.

Despite the provincial feuding in the background, Morneau said the government remains firmly committed to seeing the expansion completed.

"The federal government brings more certainty for the project," he said. 

"Failure is not an option here."