OTTAWA — True political leaders, it’s said, have the ability to look their supporters in the eye and explain to them that, while they might not want to follow a particular course of action, it is for the greater good.
Justin Trudeau showed that kind of leadership in announcing the approval of the Trans-Mountain pipeline in British Columbia. “I’m convinced it is safe for B.C. and right for Canada,” he said at a press conference Tuesday.
He said the approval of the Trans-Mountain pipeline and the replacement of the aging Line 3 between Alberta and Manitoba are in the national interest. His government risks paying the electoral price in lower mainland seats — a number of B.C. Liberal MPs, such as Ron McKinnon and Terry Beech, are openly hostile to the development.
But the prime minister said he believes the decision creates economic benefits while meeting strict environmental standards.“There’s no question that there will be people on both sides of any decision we make. I accept that. But we were elected to make difficult decisions,” Trudeau said.
Having spent the last year saying pipelines will only be built if they win social license — that the prime minister has to be a referee, not a cheerleader — the impetus is now on Trudeau to ensure the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan project is actually built. The approval means nothing, if Trans-Mountain becomes bogged down in protests and litigation.
That means the prime minister has to go to B.C. and explain why resource development is important to Canada and why it justifies increasing the number of large tankers entering Burrard Inlet from five to 34 a month.
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