Richard Cannings has spent the last day giving his head a few shakes.
And the MP for South Okanagan-Kootenay says his constituents are doing the same in the wake of an announcement yesterday that the Canadian government plans to buy the troubled Trans Mountain pipeline.
“Obviously, it’s all negative, which isn’t surprising,” Mr. Cannings said Wednesday afternoon of constituent reaction he’s received over the last 24 hours.
“Of all the options I thought (the Liberals) had at their disposal, this was the most extreme and the last one I would have picked.”
Finance Minister Bill Morneau Tuesday told a news conference the Liberal government plans to spend $4.5 billion to buy the 1,150-km pipeline, its rights and assets.
Kinder Morgan paid $550 million to acquire those same assets in 2007.
In 2013, Kinder Morgan filed an application to build a second pipeline to run roughly parallel to the existing pipeline, between Edmonton and Burnaby, to be used to transport diluted bitumen.
The government, Mr. Morneau said, would set up a Crown corporation and hire the Canadian management team associated with the planned twinning to get that work done. It would also, with Kinder Morgan’s help, look for another private sector buyer to take over.
“I was disappointed on so many levels,” said Mr. Cannings. “First of all, I don’t think it’s going to accomplish anything. That’s the real disappointment for all Canadians: we’re going to spend $4.5 billion not to build a pipeline but to buy an old pipeline — a 65-year-old leaky pipeline.
“(And) we’re going to have to spend a minimum of $7 billion more to build a new one. And there’s no guarantee that it will be built.”
Kinder Morgan’s 2013 application and the subsequent approval process has brought voracious opposition, especially from coastal First Nations and many BC residents who fear, among other things, a spill from one of the supertankers expected to move the delivered bitumen to Asian markets.
“None of that is going to change with the federal government’s purchase,” said Mr. Cannings. “It may, in fact intensify the opposition.”
The South Okanagan-Kootenay MP fears the purchase could happen without a vote — or even debate — in the House of Commons.
“According to the minister, it doesn’t,” he said when asked it MPs would get to vote on the deal. “It’s interesting that you can spend $4.5 billion without going to the House of Commons.”
He’s also uncertain about prospects to unload the pipeline on the private sector.
“They say they’re going to sell it back to a private sector, but I don’t know who is going to buy it. If the proponent didn’t think it was worth continuing, why would anybody else want to buy it?
“Especially at that price.”