Justin Trudeau has told his senior lieutenants to draw up plans to make the Energy East pipeline and the Trans Mountain expansion in British Columbia a reality.
The prime minister has been convinced by his finance minister, Bill Morneau, and other influential voices around the cabinet table that the pipelines have to be built to achieve the ambitious economic growth targets his government has set. But the problem for the Liberals is that this conviction has to be conveyed subtly to a public that has decidedly mixed views on oilsands expansion and pipelines.
The prime minister has never been an advocate of a Canadian future without oil. He supported the Keystone XL pipeline, and explicitly stated that no country that found 170 billion barrels of oil would leave it in the ground.
But people with knowledge of the matter suggest he has recently issued instructions that a pipeline strategy has to be top priority.
The government will make the ultimate decision on whether to approve the proposals, starting with Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain application, on which cabinet is expected to rule by Christmas.
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