By buying the Trans Mountain pipeline, the government of Canada has made a stunning admission. They cannot assure a major company, one with a long and successful track record in Canada, that a legal, comprehensively reviewed and fully authorized major project will proceed to completion.
Let’s park the conversation about the relative merits of the pipeline itself and think about the message that this decision sends to the investment community, particularly relating to natural resource development.
Canada has, for generations, been a major beneficiary of foreign and domestic investmentin resource projects and related infrastructure. That investment flow is now at risk.
The protests against Kinder Morgan are fully understandable. In a properly functioning democracy, people debate with passion and conviction the major issues of the day, including energy policy and pipeline construction.
The opponents have many different and honourable motivations, from concerns about the pipeline itself and Indigenous rights to worries about protecting the coastal waters from a potential tanker disaster.
Others see the struggle with Kinder Morgan as an existential battle against climate change and, specifically, the exploitation of the oilsands.
These are perfectly legitimate concerns and, to date, the overwhelming majority of the protests and tactics used by opponents of the project have been well within acceptable bounds.
Carin Holroyd is an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
Ken S. Coates is a Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan.