While Conservatives in both Ottawa and Regina flail about with angry rhetoric, but have no credible solutions to propose, the Government of Canada has moved decisively to get the TransMountain pipeline expansion (TMX) under construction.
The TMX is a national project of national importance and very much in the national interest.
The federal government has full legal and constitutional jurisdiction in this matter, and we are exercising that authority – as promised – to ensure this project gets done.
To be clear, the TMX was the subject of the most rigorous regulatory review and environmental assessment in Canadian history. It included extensive public consultations, strong scientific standards, deep Indigenous engagement, and 157 specific conditions to ensure the project’s integrity.
The Government of Canada approved it on that basis. It was also approved by the Government of British Columbia.
To illustrate how TMX is in the national interest – constructing it involves an investment which will help drive economic growth, and sustain some 15,000 well-paying jobs. The contracts for most of the pipe have already been awarded on a fully competitive basis to Evraz Steel in Regina.
Unlike other pipeline projects approved in the past, TMX will carry western Canadian resources to tidewater, putting them in a position to be exported offshore at global prices. This is not only the safest and most efficient way to transport these resources, it will bring billions of dollars – new global dollars – in economic value into Canada while also augmenting federal and provincial tax revenues.
The national interest is also served by demonstrating that Canada is a place where the constitution is respected, the rule of law applies and big, important things get done – all-in-all, a sound and solid place to invest.
Critically important, this project is going forward in the context of our pan-Canadian framework for dealing with climate change, huge new investments in energy efficiency, cleaner technologies and greener fuels, a new Pipeline Safety Act, the new Indigenous Advisory Monitoring Committee, and Canada’s new $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. All of this underscores the essential link between strong economic policy and strong environmental policy. They go hand-in-hand, again in the national interest.
When a project of this magnitude and value gets stymied by the unreasonable actions of one provincial government – threatening the livelihoods of thousands of people and damaging Canada’s reputation as a trustworthy place to invest – the Government of Canada must defend what’s best for the country as a whole, and we have. While the political uncertainty caused by the BC government has intimidated TMX’s current private sector owner, it will not intimidate the Government of Canada.
So on an exceptional basis, to guarantee this summer’s construction season for workers and to ensure the TMX is built to completion in a timely fashion, we have reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan to buy, at fair value, the existing TransMountain pipeline, together with the infrastructure related to the TransMountain Expansion Project.
Because these core assets have significant commercial value and future potential, we chose NOT to offer Kinder Morgan a subsidy, but instead to take advantage of a sound business investment opportunity with solid prospects for a real rate of return that would benefit all Canadians.
This will not, however, result in long-term federal ownership. At the appropriate time, Canada will seek to transfer the project to new private sector owners in a way that will ensure the project’s successful construction and operation, while protecting taxpayers and the public interest.
Transactions of this magnitude are bound to be controversial, but make no mistake – this is all about securing Canada’s future. And I’m glad to see many business voices being raised in support of this important federal initiative, including the Saskatoon and Saskatchewan Chambers of Commerce.
The federal government’s proactive stance on this issue is consistent with many other aspects of our successful economic strategy over the past two years, and the results are encouraging:
- Tax rates for the middle class and for small business have come down.
- Wages are beginning to strengthen.
- Overall Canadian economic growth is now well ahead of Stephen Harper’s 10-year average. In fact, it’s now the best in the G7.
- Our federal debt ratio is also the best in the G7 and projected to improve even further year-after-year.
- National unemployment is near an all time record low.
- More than 620,000 net new jobs have been generated since our government came into office.
- Foreign direct investment is up by 5%.
- Stock market values are up by 17%.
But we’re not satisfied. We’re not complacent. We’ve made progress. But there’s much more that lies ahead.
We’re investing in the most effective drivers of greater economic growth, jobs and prosperity – like infrastructure, science, innovation, higher learning and skills, trade … and exceptional projects like TMX.
Past experience in matters of this kind – like Peter Lougheed’s investment in Syncrude and Brian Mulroney’s investment in Hibernia – produced impressive results for Canadians, in the national interest. TMX is of the same calibre.
And we are determined to get it done, starting with the construction season this summer.