Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will “absolutely” commit to honouring community benefit agreements signed with Kinder Morgan, prior to the federal government’s purchasing of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The American oil company made deals with multiple B.C. governments, including Kamloops and the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, pledging financial support for construction of the pipeline expansion. The federal government is currently revisiting its consultation process, after a court overturned Ottawa's approval of the contentious project.
“The benefit sharing impact agreements is absolutely something we are going to be continuing with,” Trudeau told KTW, during a media scrum at Thompson Rivers University. “The reason we stepped up to invest in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was because we know that getting our resources to new markets other than the United States is essential for the Canadian economy.”
The prime minister closed out a Kamloops trip touring Thompson Rivers University’s new trades building, which his government funded, and took questions from media. Trudeau also met later that morning with seniors at the Kamloops Centre for Seniors Information, before catching a flight to Regina for his second town hall meeting of his 2019 re-election bid.
Though emphatic in committing to the agreements if the pipeline copmes to fruition, the prime minister was not forthcoming when asked how he can assure Canadians his promises will be kept on this campaign trail in light of abandoning his pledge to reform Canada’s electoral system — arguably the Liberal Party’s biggest campaign promise from 2015 and a process B.C. recently revisited for the third time.
Trudeau focused his answer, rather, on what he described as the most important promise made — to invest in the middle class and grow the economy.
“We delivered a middle class tax cut … raised taxes on the wealthiest one per cent,” he said.
The economy will remain his party’s focus in the next election, Trudeau said, noting it is what Canadians are most preoccupied with.
As for electoral reform, Trudeau said “it was clear there was no consensus to be had as again we saw in this B.C. referendum and therefore that wasn’t something we were going to move forward on.”
Last fall, the results of a mail-in referendum on electoral reform showed 61.3 per cent of ballots choosing to remain with the first-past-the-post system in B.C. and 38.7 per cent opting in favour of switching to a form of proportional representation. The three options for proportional representation were split 41.24 per cent, 29.45 per cent and 29.31 per cent.