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Today, we took an important step forward on the road to building the Trans-Mountain Pipeline.
It has not been easy. That’s no secret.
Many obstacles have been put in our way.
But Albertans haven’t wavered in our conviction that Trans-Mountain must be built to secure our economy, to get more value from our resources, and to provide stability and certainty for working families.
When the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of Trans-Mountain last August, I was concerned that the NEB would not meet the deadlines set.
And so I am very pleased that the National Energy Board has not only re-issued a recommendation for approval to the federal cabinet, but that it has done so in accordance with federal timelines.
This is a very positive development.
We appreciate that the NEB has established some new conditions, amended some of its previous ones, and made additional recommendations.
We believe these recommendations and conditions are sound, achievable, and will improve marine safety for all shipping, not just for the one additional tanker a day that results from Trans-Mountain.
With the NEB’s approval recommendation in hand, the federal government’s obligation now is to properly consult with affected Indigenous communities.
Let me emphasize how important it is that consultation is done properly and thoroughly.
I understand that Trans-Mountain is a political issue.
But let’s remember that politics can’t be allowed to compromise the integrity of proper Indigenous consultation.
If it does, we risk turning back the clock on the hard-won progress we’ve made.
From day 1, Albertans have made a simple and compelling case for the pipeline.
That case is grounded in some basic facts.
Let me state them as clearly as I can:
Alberta produces energy products to the highest environmental standards in the world.
But we can’t get full value for those products because we can’t move the product to market.
As a result, the Canadian economy loses billions of dollars every year.
Because of our own inaction, we are leaving world oil markets – and in some cases Eastern Canadian markets -- to the Russians and the Saudis – countries that don’t care a wit about climate change or the environment.
It just doesn’t make any sense.
The answer: a modern, well-regulated pipeline system -- including one to the coast -- that is paired with the world-class marine protection.
This is what Trans-Mountain offers.
And over the last three years, I have taken this argument to every corner of the country – to supporters, sceptics and opponents.
In Alberta, we have worked to build a national consensus for pipelines, not by yelling at our fellow Canadians, but through patient and determined advocacy.
True, at times, we have been tough.
When the BC Government threatened to take unconstitutional action to block Alberta energy products from crossing their border -- action that was designed to rattle private sector investors -- we answered by banning BC wine from crossing our border.
And we passed new legislation that gave Alberta the authority to regulate the transport of our products – sending a clear signal to those who would deliberately harm our economy.
At the same time, we continued a thoughtful and comprehensive campaign to speak to Canadians about why this pipeline was in the national interest.
Not long ago, 4 in 10 Canadian supported Trans-Mountain.
Today, 7 in 10 Canadians do.
This strategic and deliberate approach has moved the ball forward.
And so, last April, when Trans-Mountain investors left the project, the federal government was compelled to step in and buy it on behalf of all Canadians.
This purchase fundamentally changed pipeline politics in Canada.
Pipeline opponents might have been able to scare private investors away.
But they can’t scare a growing majority of Canadians who both support and now own the project.
And so despite the legitimate frustration.
Despite the obstacles.
And knowing we have work ahead…
…I am optimistic.
Because I believe in Canadian common sense.
And I believe in this country.
We can do big things that make a difference if we do them right and we do them in the national interest.
From Day 1 this has been our strategy….
….to bring Canadians along with us, not to divide them against each other…
…to patiently and thoughtfully build consensus with facts, not attacks…
…and to unite Canadians around the need for this project.
I strongly believe this is the right approach.
And if we continue to take it – if we continue to speak to Canadians as fellow citizens with a shared interest in a united Canada that works for the many, not just the few – I have no doubt we will get this pipeline built.