Ottawa's planned purchase of pipeline elicits shock, disappointment

Canada purchases Trans Mountain pipeline project for $4.5B

Calling a controversial pipeline expansion "a vital project in the national interest", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is buying the Trans Mountain pipeline to ensure that the expansion is built, despite protests from environmentalists and other groups.

The federal government announced Tuesday it is going to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan and that has the union representing steel workers hopeful things will ramp up for them shortly.

"For sale: Stalled and collapsing pipeline project", reads the title of a Craigslist ad, posted May 29. Finance Minister Bill Morneau told media that the next step will be to sell it off to the highest bidder once market conditions allow.

Greenpeace spokesperson Mike Hudema said the pipeline purchase flies in the face of Canada's talk of climate leadership.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain subsidiary inked a profit-sharing pact with the B.C. government on April 6, 2017, after then-premier Christy Clark agreed to support the expansion project.

Trudeau reminded the federal New Democrats that it is an NDP government, headed by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, that is the major provincial proponent of the pipeline project.

But the finance minister has been pressed on the possibility that future costs could well exceed that number, as the company has previously pegged the total expansion cost at $7.4 billion.

But it's very much who we are.

Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, admits Ottawa is trying to make lemonade from lemons after Kinder Morgan balked last month at proceeding with the project, but he worries the same hurdles remain now for the federal government.

"We need to send a signal to the world that Canada is indeed open for business", he said.

"I have always been supportive of getting a pipeline to saltwater", she said.

Horgan said his province will continue to seek a legal remedy to stop the expansion.

He said it threatens Canada's reputation as a safe place to invest, puts thousands of jobs at risk and holds back Canada's economic growth.

Many indigenous people see the new pipeline as a threat to their lands, echoing concerns raised by Native Americans about the Keystone XL project in the US.

British Columbia's Premier John Horgan told broadcaster Global News on Wednesday that he "rejected" the idea that his relationship with the federal government has deteriorated over the dispute. Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr said that the political polarization over the pipeline's construction was atypical for Canada, and he suggested that the federal government's intervention would restore stability and certainty.

Tom Whalen, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, in a statement that PSAC is " deeply concerned that in light of opposition, and in order for the project to move forward, government intervention was required".

In October, Indigenous and environmental groups began a lawsuit against the National Energy Board, Kinder Morgan and the federal government.

Rueben George, spokesman for the Tsleil-Waututh's Sacred Trust Initiative which is opposing the pipeline, called the decision a bad risk for Canadian taxpayers.

Canada approved the project in November 2016, following an expanded environmental review process that included additional consultations with Indigenous communities and assessing the amount of additional emissions likely to result from additional production.