Reactions to Trans Mountain announcement

Political, business and Indigenous leaders across the country react to the prime minister's decision to proceed with the pipeline expansion

What happened: From east to west, left to right, and pro- and anti-pipeline positions, Canadian leaders react to the federal government's decision to proceed with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Why it matters: Government may have announced its intentions, but debate on the controversial project rages on. 

“Today I am announcing that our government has newly approved the Trans Mountain expansion project going forward," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "At the end of the day, we listened. And we are acting on what we heard."

"Let's not forget: the Trans Mountain expansion was supposed to be operating this year," Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer in a press conference. "Despite liberal after liberal approval, not a single inch of pipe has been laid on this project and not an ounce of dirt has been moved."

“We would not move ahead with this project,” federal NDP leader Jagmeet Signh said, should the NDP form government in the next election. "We would immediately end any construction and moving forward with this project."

“It does ring somewhat hollow that on one day you can claim that there’s an emergency and on another day you can accelerate the increase of emissions in Canada," B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters.

“Just yesterday these very same Ministers supported a motion that declared a climate emergency. How can this government declare a climate emergency and yet continue to invest in major expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure that will last 40 to 50 years?” asked BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. “No compelling business case has been made for the expansion, with Kinder Morgan offloading the risk onto the Canadian taxpayer. Proceeding with the Trans Mountain expansion is a reckless use of taxpayer money.”

“We know that British Columbians continue to be deeply concerned over a seven fold increase in tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. They are deeply concerned about the consequences of a catastrophic oil spill to our environment, and to the jobs and economic benefits for British Columbians,” said B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Strategy George Heyman. “We will not abandon our responsibility to protect our land and our water. We’ll continue to stand up and defend our environment, our coast and the tens of thousands of jobs that are dependent on them.”

"The Government of Alberta appreciates the second federal cabinet approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion," tweeted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. "We never should have been put in the position of depending on one coastal pipeline project."

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Member of Parliament for Vancouver-Granville, tweeted: "Today’s #TMX decision by the federal government is as expected – 'newly approved'." In a blog post, Wilson-Raybould wrote that, "to date, in my view, the necessary prerequisites for building TMX have not fully been met."

"It's clear First Nations have different positions on this project but they all stand firm that their rights be respected and their traditional territories be protected. Only First Nations can determine if those conditions are met," stated Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

“I am extremely disappointed – but not surprised – that the government of Canada has put oil industry profits ahead of the lives of Burnaby’s residents and our firefighters," said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley. “Prime Minister Trudeau once said that governments grant permits but communities grant permission. On behalf of Burnaby Council, I can assure you that we do not grant permission."

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart wrote: "I commit to doing everything in our power to support local First Nations through appeals and other avenues and stand up for the interests of our City and our climate." He added: "The decision is beyond disappointing, it’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable from a climate perspective, blowing up Canada's Paris Commitments in the middle of a climate emergency."

“The Squamish Nation met with federal officials as they conducted their court-ordered Phase III consultations with First Nations. What we experienced was a shallow attempt at consultation that resulted in a failure to address our concerns. The failure to meaningfully engage with rights holders means this government is either not serious about building this pipeline or not serious about respecting Indigenous rights," said Squamish Nation spokesperson Khelsilem.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe tweeted: "Today’s announcement that #TMX has been approved by the fed govt is good news for all Canadians. Not only is TMX crucial to our energy sector, market access & jobs but after the fed govt purchased the pipeline over 1 year ago, they put billions of taxpayers’ dollars on the line."

“Today’s decision by the federal government sends a clear message to John Horgan and the NDP: The time for obstruction is over – their government needs to get out of the way and support this project," said BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson.

Liberal Member of Parliament Jane Philpott, a member of cabinet when Canada purchased the pipeline, tweeted: "In the face of a #climate emergency, courage is not spending public funds on oil & gas expansion. It is calling for evidence-based national incentives for solar plants, rooftop solar, wind and wave energy generators, geothermal solutions and hydroelectric power."

“The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land,” said Kanahus Manuel, a spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors. "Today, we are calling on all of our Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to join us in this battle to ensure the man-camps are not built and the Trans Mountain pipeline will not pass.”

“It’s a good day for Canada and B.C.,” said Val Litwin, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. "But ‘approved’ does not mean ‘built.’ We need to see a solid plan to complete the project, in order to realize these benefits and send the message to the world that BC is open for business.”

“We applaud the federal government for making this decision. It is high time that we move forward, collectively as Canadians, to build this infrastructure and get our natural resources to international markets," tweeted Iain Black, outgoing president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

“Approving fossil fuel infrastructure expansion when Canada has declared a climate emergency goes against the policy strides that have been made to reduce emissions,” said the David Suzuki Foundation's director-general of Western Canada Jay Ritchlin.

“What stunning hypocrisy for Prime Minister Trudeau to approve a massive tar sands oil pipeline the day after his government declared a climate emergency and reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement. This is like declaring war on cancer and then announcing a campaign to promote smoking. But this is far from a done deal. First Nations and Canadian environmentalists will continue to fight this project and their international allies will support them in whatever way they can," said Patrick McCully, climate and energy program director at the Rainforest Action Network.

“Approving the Trans Mountain Pipeline is inconsistent with our government’s declaration of a climate emergency,” said Tzeporah Berman, international program director at "Oil and gas emissions are the largest and fastest growing component of Canada’s emissions. If we are going to fight climate change in Canada, we need to face the fact that we can no longer expand fossil fuel production and infrastructure.”

“Canadians know climate leaders don’t build pipelines, and they see right through Trudeau’s doublespeak,” said Dogwood Initiative campaigns manager Alexandra Woodsworth. “We’re in a climate emergency — Canadians won’t stand by as their tax dollars are used to pour gas on the fire.”

“The federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a positive step toward further hydrocarbon development in Canada. However, the project still faces significant political, regulatory, and judicial challenges, and ultimately we see a tremendous amount of execution risk up until the oil starts flowing," wrote Moody's Investors Services.