Trudeau visits Alberta pipeline site, says national unity is not under threat
It's been almost a month since Trudeau gave second go-ahead to pipeline expansion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dismissing conservative claims that national unity is under threat.
The Liberal leader says conservative politicians are playing petty politics, which is hurting people across the country.
"Conservative politicians are choosing to play a high degree of politics, including bringing up threats to national unity, which we categorically reject," Trudeau said Friday.
Trudeau stopped to visit workers Friday morning at Edmonton's Trans Mountain pipeline terminal, which is the start of the line that carries Alberta oil to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C.
It has been almost a month since Trudeau gave a second go-ahead to expanding the pipeline, after the courts overturned his government's original approval.
The Federal Court of Appeal ruled Ottawa hadn't done a good enough job with environmental reviews of the project, or consulting with Indigenous groups. Other politicians called on Ottawa to appeal, but it followed the court's ruling with more consultations.
In Edmonton, Trudeau said that if it had appealed, the only people working on Trans Mountain this summer would be lawyers fighting in court.
He made no new announcements on the project other than to say that shovels would be in the ground "later this construction season."
Premiers discuss unity at meeting
After stopping to chat with several workers sitting at lunch tables, Trudeau spoke with reporters.
"It's important that the prime minister be here to remind Canadians that we do not have to pit one corner of the country against each other," he said.
Alberta's United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday, at the closing of the annual premiers' conference in Saskatoon, that his province is frustrated with the federal government and other jurisdictions because it can't get its resources to market.
The Trans Mountain project has been met with court challenges in B.C., while Quebec is firmly opposed to moving oil through its jurisdiction.
Kenney said Alberta contributes billions of dollars to Canada's economy.
"The level of frustration and alienation that exists in Alberta right now towards Ottawa and the federation is, I believe, at its highest level, certainly in our country's modern history," Kenney told a news conference.
He said he doesn't think Albertans really want to separate — they just want fairness.
"Too often we seem to have partners in the federation, including in Ottawa, intent on pinning us down and blocking us in and impairing our ability to develop the resources that help to pay the bills," Kenney said.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who chaired the premiers' meeting, has also said that Ottawa's energy policies — like Bill C-69, an overhaul of federal environmental assessments of major construction projects, and its carbon tax — are a threat to national unity.