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NDP need pipeline for “any hope” of re-election: political scientist

The race to get the Trans Mountain pipeline project underway is heating up and one Grande Prairie Regional College political scientist says the NDP’s future is in the balance. Last week Kinder Morgan announced it is considering scrapping the plan completely by the end of May if Alberta and B.C. can’t come to an agreement that would allow construction to begin.

The federal government has now responded to the calls of many for them to get involved. Their two premiers will now meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday.

Premier Rachel Notley has been putting pressure on the NDP to the west since early this year. They started with the now-lifted wine ban and now Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd is expected to introduce a new bill which she expects could contain “consequences” for B.C.

“Mechanisms will be in the bill, but what I can say is it will give us the power over our oil and gas resources. And what [else] I can is if I lived in the lower mainland, Vancouver or Victoria, I would be very concerned about prices at the pumps.”

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Premier Notley has taken a similarly strong stance in her language and action. When reacting initially to the news that Kinder Morgan was considering cancelling the project she continued to insist the pipeline will be built.

“Never count Alberta out.”

GPRC Political Scientist Dawn Moffatt-McMaster says she isn’t surprised to see Notley take such a strong stance.

“The problem for the Notley government is they do not have the time for this to go through the courts. That court process is something very lengthy and very expensive. For this government they do not have time for that.”

Moffatt-McMaster says the deadline Kinder Morgan imposed might actually speed the process up which could be to the Alberta NDP’s benefit.

“Strategically it makes sense because it puts pressure on the government, especially the federal government, to take action. Not to just be willing to wait for this to go through the court process.”

The clock is ticking for the NDP as the 2019 election looms in the distance. Moffatt-McMaster says she believes if there is any hope of them getting re-elected, they need to get ground broken.

“They can make the argument that enacting the carbon tax and the kind of stronger regulation of the oil and gas industry has given them the social license to then be able to export that oil.”

Moffatt-McMaster also notes that B.C. Premier John Horgan is in a coalition government with the Green Party. She says this partly explains his strong stance against the project as a fracture in that partnership could lead to another election at any time.

Sunday’s meeting will be the first time in at least month the two premiers will be in the same space. Premier Rachel Notley and Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd both said they had not had any direct conversations with B.C. officials on a Peace Region visit last month. Speaking in Grande Prairie Monday, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous also said he had not spoken to his B.C. counterpart recently either.

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