Bill Kelly: Pipeline politics will dominate first ministers meeting
8th December 2018

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was setting the agenda for Friday’s first ministers meeting in Montreal, he said one of the main issues to be discussed had to be knocking down interprovincial trade barriers.

The reality is that interprovincial trade will likely receive little to no attention because this group of angry premiers wants pipeline politics to dominate the day.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wants to revive the Energy East pipeline, while Quebec Premier François Legault says there’s no way Quebec will support such an idea.

Out west, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley wants help to get Albertan oil to the west coast for export rather than get stuck with the discount price that the Americans pay for Alberta oil.

But B.C. Premier John Horgan has gone to court to stop the much-needed Trans Mountain expansion, leaving the federal government scrambling to find alternative solutions.

As if that’s not trouble enough, the prime minister will have to deal with the Gang of Four: Higgs, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who are also heading to court to try to block Trudeau’s carbon tax legislation.

After 10 years of the Harper government ignoring these first ministers meetings, Trudeau was praised for resurrecting the idea when he became prime minister.

As things heat up behind closed doors at today’s meeting, the prime minister might regret that decision.

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