The House

Midweek podcast: Justin Trudeau's energy test begins

On the midweek podcast, we look at the decision to approve Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project with North Vancouver MP John Wilkinson and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Then, we dive into Auditor General Michael Ferguson's most recent, and damning, reports.
A ship receives its load of oil from the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Westridge loading dock in Burnaby, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press) (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
Listen to the full episode29:36

North Vancouver MP John Wilkinson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment and climate change, says it's impossible to appease all voters on issues like pipelines, especially in British Columbia. 

Earlier this year in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was working on "creating the social licence" ahead of approving pipelines.

Something he must feel he has after signing off on two major pipeline projects: the Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge's Line 3.

"At the end of the day, on these kinds of projects, you will almost never get unanimity," Wilkinson told The House.

"There's a group of folks on one side who are adamantly opposed, adamantly opposed, simply adamantly opposed. And then there's a group on the other side who are adamantly in favour. And then there's the majority in the middle who have legitimate concerns that they want to understand are being addressed."

In his riding for example, Wilkinson says there are concerns about how the government plans to measure tanker traffic and what to do about any possible spills.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May participates has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline expansion. (The Canadian Press)

"You need to have reasons to be against something and you need reasons to be for something. I have taken the concerns and the questions that residents of my constituency have, and I have reflected those very strongly to the government… and they were."

Wilkinson believes the pipeline will be built, "but it's not something I can guarantee."

"Let's hope not," Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, someone on the "adamantly opposed side," told host Chris Hall.

"You can't suck and blow at the same time. You can't say you're going to fight greenhouse gases and approve a lot of projects that will increase greenhouse gases."

May said despite what the Pime Minister is saying, there's no economic studies to suggest both approved projects are in Canada's "best interest."

"We will be there. We will stand there. We will do everything possible to block this project because it's not in British Columbia's interest, it does violence to the commitment that the Trudeau administration made to respect First Nations rights, just as it does to the commitment to meet Paris climate target," she said.

Michael Ferguson still hoping for change

Auditor General of Canada Michael Ferguson holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre regarding the 2016 Fall Reports in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Canada's federal spending watchdog says he expects it will take some time before he starts to see any significant movement on the problems he's repeatedly highlighted.

On Tuesday Auditor General Michael Ferguson tabled a series of seven reports that found alarming gaps in government programs, from motor vehicle safety oversight that could put lives at risk to a chronically failed First Nations claims process he condemned as "beyond unacceptable."

Ferguson, who is five years into a ten-year mandate, has presided over more than 100 audits and examinations, but he lamented they have led to little action or real change.

"I think what we've fallen into is a bit of a system where by we make recommendations, departments say, 'Yes we agree with your recommendations. We will implement something to meet your recommendations.' But then they don't necessarily look to put something in place that improves the result," Ferguson said.

"They look more just to put something in place to say, 'Well we've done something because the auditor general made a recommendation.'"

Ferguson tabled his fall report with an unusual prepared message urging the relatively new Parliament to adopt a radically new approach to governing to improve and speed up services for Canadians.

"We often see governments say yes we are going to do something, but I guess I have now been in this position enough and I've seen enough of the same problem come up over and over again that for me it's about waiting and seeing what the results will be," he said.

"I certainly hope though that by the end of my mandate I will be able to come back and say we're starting to see some real progress on some of these government services."

On the midweek podcast, we look at the decision to approve Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project with North Vancouver MP John Wilkinson and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. 29:36