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Trudeau reaction to Alberta climate plan pullback 'moment of truth for Canada': expert

Last Updated Aug 31, 2018 at 1:55 pm PDT

FILE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers reporters' questions in August 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Expert says how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to Rachel Notley will be a "moment of truth for Canada"

Trudeau says he is committed to climate action plan and the pipeline will move forward

Notley says Alberta won't raise carbon tax unless federal government follows through with the pipeline

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The ramifications of Alberta’s decision to pull out of the national climate change plan may ultimately lie with the Prime Minister, according to a University of British Columbia political expert.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her province won’t raise its $30/tonne carbon tax to $50 by 2022, unless the federal government gets its act together on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. She says they should file an appeal with the Supreme Court and fix the National Energy Board consultation process.

The announcement followed Thursday’s Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to pump the brakes on the now government-owned┬ámulti-billion dollar expansion.

“I do think this is a moment of truth for Canada in it’s commitment to address climate change and for the Trudeau government,” UBC environmental politics and policy professor Kathryn Harrison said.

Previously, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will impose the $50 price on provinces that don’t develop their own tax scheme.

“Alberta’s opposition, now on top of that from Ontario, Saskatchewan (and) possibly New Brunswick, does put the pressure on Justin Trudeau to say how he’s going to respond,” Harrison said.

Trudeau says he remains committed to the climate action plan, including imposing the tax on those who don’t raise their prices. However, he says his government intends to move forward to get the pipeline expansion built “in the right way.”

The court ruled Thursday the NEB’s environmental assessment of the project was fatally flawed because it ignored the potential impact of increased oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s coast. It also ruled that the federal government had not fulfilled its duty to meaningfully consult with affected Indigenous groups.

Notley says Alberta’s economy, largely reliant on oil and gas, is being “held hostage.”

“I think that is dangerous language in our democracy,” Harrison said. “Because the question is who is it being held hostage by? Yesterday’s decision which thwarted Alberta’s goals to get a pipeline built was a decision by a court that was upholding the law and interpreting Canada’s constitution. Notley can be angry at the federal government … for making mistakes in the environmental assessment, but I think the language of holding hostage Alberta’s economy hostage is very dangerous when it’s delivered in response to a court that is fulfilling its role.”

Notley said if the government takes action now, the outstanding Trans Mountain issues could be dealt with by early 2019, however Harrison thinks that is not realistic. She says creating meaningful dialogue with First Nations groups and considering a new NEB environmental assessment, as set out by the court, will likely take longer, even without an appeal.

Feds officially buy Trans Mountain pipeline

It’s official — the Government of Canada is now the owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The feds are paying $4.5 billion to take over the pipeline, in an effort to ensure the expansion project goes through.