The only thing that has really changed when it comes to the Kinder Morgan pipeline is that taxpayers are now on the hook.
One of the reasons for an end-of-May-deadline was because the shareholders of Kinder Morgan were no longer willing to invest any more money in a pipeline that was facing delay after delay. Now Canadians are, with no say in the matter.
From what we know there were no other companies prepared to invest money in a project drowning in delays of one sort or another.
The federal government did not have its own money to make this purchase — it all came from the taxpayers — you and me.
Just by virtue of the federal government buying this project the court and environmental delays have not fallen away either.
It is highly optimistic for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to say we are ready to build the pipeline. Far from it.
Some would say this week was all about political opportunism.
That could be the motivation for the federal government decision too.
A lot has already been said and written about the political positioning being played out in British Columbia, Alberta and federally. They are all facing elections in about a year and are eager to give the impression they are accommodating all sides — the environmentalists and the political parties. They want all the votes they can get.
This week’s announcement simply buys some time for those wanting a political spin. It can give the impression there is great progress being made on this pipeline without any leader actually having to take a real stand that may be offensive to some voters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has the power to solve the crisis. He could take a stand and enforce the building of the pipeline. He has taken a stand by choosing not to go that route.
The same court challenges against the pipeline remain. The same environmentalists are still promising it will never be built and the federal government has not given any assurances it will take action against those who oppose it being built.
In fact Kinder Morgan still has almost two months to find another private sector buyer and only then — July 22 — will Kinder Morgan take Ottawa’s proposal to its shareholders. If its shareholders approve of selling to Ottawa (the taxpayers of Canada) it will happen in the fall. That could take some time to sort through things, then we have Christmas and a break from parliament and then we have a new year and we are almost at the point of a provincial election.
No decisions are going to happen then because a change in government is likely. After the provincial election we will be getting ready for a federal election and that takes care of the whole mess for at least 12 months and possible longer.
The only thing this week’s announcement did was take some pressure off the provincial government, the Trudeau government, and potentially put taxpayers on the hook for this pipeline for a very long time.