Notley pleads for pipelines

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley issued warnings to all political parties to take off their partisan blinders or both the environment and Canada's energy industry will fail.

Notley was in Ottawa on Tuesday as part of a national outreach effort to get more buy in for pipeline expansions in Canada. In a speech at the Economic Club of Canada and a roundtable discussion with The Canadian Press, she pleaded with political allies and foes alike to work with her.

"You know that this issue transcends political divides," Notley said.

She said the federal Liberals may get credit for approving Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but now they have to get off their duffs and sell their decision to a skeptical public in British Columbia.

She demanded the Conservatives in Ottawa and Alberta stop pretending climate change isn't real because it's getting in the way of getting pipelines approved.

She saved some of her starkest words for members of her own party in Ottawa and other provinces, whose efforts to protect the environment cannot come at the expense of people.

"We cannot put a generation of people out of work and then look surprised or act surprised when people reject the purpose for that, reject climate change, reject the efforts to protect the environment," she said.

She acknowledged the divide between the Alberta NDP and the federal NDP on the pipeline issue. Two weeks ago she said federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh's anti-Trans Mountain stance is "irrelevant" and defended that Tuesday in Ottawa, saying the decision has been made and Singh should work on fighting future battles, not ones that have already been decided.

While federal approval for the expansion came a year ago and some construction work has begun, completing Trans Mountain's expansion is still far from a sure thing.

The new NDP government in B.C. — elected after the approval — has vowed to stop it at any cost and the courts are now looking at a legal challenge from indigenous communities who argue they were not properly consulted.

At the same time, the National Energy Board is hearing an appeal from Kinder Morgan, which says the city of Burnaby, B.C., is wrongly withholding construction permits for the project.

All of that means the federal Liberals need to step up their game in explaining why they decided Trans Mountain was in the national interest, Notley said.

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