On August 31, Kinder Morgan approved the sale of the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Canadian Federal Government for $4.5 billion. Just the day previous, the Federal Court of Appeal unanimously decided to freeze the project “due to shortcomings in the National Energy Board’s review and the government’s lack of meaningful consultation with First Nations.”
To sum up: the Canadian Government spent $4.5 billion on a pipeline that was under legal scrutiny and then decided to purchase it even after more roadblocks were put in place because of their own actions. Whether you are in favour of the pipeline or not, that price tag is astronomical for any project that could potentially never move forward.
Now the Federal Government owns the pipeline and, instead of plotting a concrete way forward, they are pointing fingers. They aren’t the only government in Canada to do so. Rachel Notley pulled out of the federal climate plan, calling on Trudeau’s government to “fix” the Trans Mountain Pipeline “crisis.” Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau pointed to the past, saying he inherited a flawed review process for industrial projects from the Harper Government.
It is fair to assume that a representational democracy like ours almost necessitates inefficiencies. Differing provinces, Indigenous nations and the general populace can all have their say, and rightfully so, but we also need decisive action and decisive leadership. Being a good leader means making the right decision knowing you cannot please everyone. Being a member of a democracy means accepting that you don’t always get your way. That is not what we as Canadians and Albertans are getting. Instead, we are getting power plays and passing the buck, leading to more uncertainty for the pipeline, the economy and our future.
Taking on the bureaucracy of the pipeline was, of course, part of the deal. The government recognized that there were more hoops to jump through in the future and decided it was no longer the burden of a private company. Now, we as Canadians have paid Kinder Morgan $4.5 billion of our money, and many of us are left wondering if the purchase will be worth it.
But we can’t blame Kinder Morgan. They are in the pipeline business. What we need is a government that is wiling to pick a platform and stick to it – to focus on the issues and push forward while accepting constructive feedback. What we don’t need are politicians fretting about what makes them popular in the polls, or how quickly they can deflect blame.
The ongoing saga of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a lesson in navigating our many competing interests and parties. It’s also a lesson in blatant attempts to garner popularity first and action second. The real victims are the taxpayers, who are looking at the bill and wondering how they will get a decent return on investment.