‘If you can’t sell the product, you have a fundamental issue’: former environment minister says expanding Trans Mountain wouldn’t help Canadian crude


Almost a year after buying the Trans Mountain pipeline, a decision on what to do with it is looming.

On Tuesday, the federal cabinet is set to decide if the pipeline, which currently runs from Edmonton to Burnaby will be twinned to triple capacity.

“With respect, minister, the expansion should be rejected,” said high-profile former liberal environment minister David Anderson.

In a letter to Ottawa, Anderson says expanding the pipeline wouldn’t actually solve Canada’s crude problems.

“It’s not been a question of access, it’s a been question of lack of market,” said Anderson.

“The real problem is we have really high cost and difficult to handle crude oil from Alberta. The Asian market which has been mentioned time after time simply doesn’t exist for that type of oil.”

Anderson says refineries in Asia aren’t currently set up to handle our harsh Canadian crude.

“If you can’t sell the product, you have a fundamental issue,” said Anderson.

But some say the decision to expand the pipeline is a done deal.

“I don’t think this letter is going to have any impacy on Ottawa’s decision, no,” said political analyst David Black.

“We will not be surprised on Tuesday, we will see the approval of the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

But Anderson says the question of whether this is a good investment, belongs to Canadians, and the economics need to be addressed before any decisions to expand the pipeline are made.

“We are the taxpayers who own the pipeline thanks to the government’s purchase of it. We are entitled to know what the costs are, what the potential is,” said Anderson.

“We are entitled to have a decision made on the basis of facts, a business case, and not on the basis of some dream or hope that a market will materialize in the future which nobody can see at the present time.”

Cabinet will decide Tuesday, but the expansion would still face many legal hurdles including those from the B.C. government and First Nations.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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