Alberta NDP calling for independent investigation into Kenney’s Keystone XL deal – About Your Online Magazine


EDMONTON –
Alberta’s official opposition leader Rachel Notley is calling for an independent review of Jason Kenney’s failed government deal with Keystone XL.

Alberta’s NDP leader stated his intentions during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

“Jason Kenney’s incompetence cost Alberta taxpayers $1.3 billion at least,” said Notley. “He made an incredibly reckless bet with Albert’s money and lost it.”

Notley’s comments came a day after the CRU government of Alberta and energy infrastructure builder TC Energy officially ended the Keystone XL pipeline deal.

The Keystone XL pipeline would have delivered oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska.

Wednesday’s announcement of the dead deal was the final nail in the coffin of a project that Notley said had a high probability of failure even before the deal was closed.

“Joe Biden’s position at KXL was well known to everyone,” she said, “and there was always a good chance he could win the election.”

In March of last year, Alberta committed $7.5 billion to Keystone XL, an investment of $1.5 billion and $6 billion in supporting loans.

On Thursday, Notley blamed Kenney’s desire for a “photo opportunity” for motivating the Alberta premier to make the deal.

“Now that the government has reached an exit agreement with TC Energy, the time has come for an independent investigation into this disaster,” she said.

Alberta’s opposition leader said she expects a response from the Ministry of Energy and the Auditor General when they appear before the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday.

“We remain deeply concerned that the Kenney administration has taken this agreement forward without hiring an outside organization to do a full and independent assessment,” said Notley.

RACHEL NOTLEY

“We want to know how and why this happened,” she added. “Your refusal to release the agreement simply exacerbates the pattern of secrecy, dishonesty and incompetence we’ve seen in this administration.”

A press release from the Alberta government sent out on Wednesday said the province and TC Energy will “continue to explore all options to recoup government investment in the project.”

Until that happens, Alberta taxpayers will be left with about $1.3 billion, or $300 for Alberta.

‘WE MAKE A STRATEGIC DECISION’

Premier Jason Kenney was asked about Notley’s allegations after Thursday afternoon’s COVID-19 update.

“The real reason the NDP was opposed to our investment to build Keystone XL is because they were always opposed to Keystone XL,” said Kenney.

“We made the strategic decision to invest in the project, to keep it alive, so that it could move forward.”

Alberta’s prime minister also reiterated his intention to file legal action to recover the province’s losses.

“We are confident that we will be able to recoup our investment or take damages from the legal process. This has always been part of our contingency when we go into this with our eyes wide open.”

A request by CTV News Edmonton to speak with Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage on Thursday was rejected.

TC ENERGY OUTPUT STRATEGY

In a written response to CTV News Edmonton, TC Energy said its “first priority is to ensure that we complete construction activities safely and with care for the environment.

“We will continue to coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and rights holders as we progress with the cleanup and restoration work to safely exit the Project.”

The company added that in the coming months it will evaluate long-term plans and “identify capital recovery opportunities”.

“We have not taken any decision on investment recovery options,” the statement read in part.

TC Energy had built 150 kilometers of pipeline in Alberta before the cancellation.

‘YOU CANNOT FIGHT THE US GOVERNMENT’

The CEO of a Calgary-based energy consulting firm, Duane Reid-Carlson, told CTV News Edmonton that the official cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is not just a blow to that project alone.

“What worries me most,” said the CEO of EDC Associated Ltd., “is the ability of the oil and gas industries in Alberta to continue to expand in these types of headwinds.”

“(It) really means doom and gloom for Alberta’s economic prosperity and growth,” he added. “We cannot put our products on the market. You cannot fight the US government.”

‘NO SURPRISES HERE’

According to Mount Royal University political science professor Keith Brownsey, the recently renegotiated trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the US no longer allows for any legal recourse for Canada over its southern neighbors.

“It was removed in these recent negotiations from our free trade agreement,” Brownsey told CTV News Edmonton of the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. “We really can’t sue.”

Brownsey said that by closing the Keystone XL deal, the UCP government had placed itself in a “very difficult position”.

“I like to joke that my local financial adviser at the mall would have turned me away from investing in Keystone XL,” he said. “Still, the province decides to invest $1.3 billion in a project that they understood was under very strict scrutiny and could be canceled almost at any time.”

“There were no surprises here,” Brownsey added, “except apparently for the CRU.”

Brownsey believes that public money lost in the Keystone XL pipeline, which never existed, will lead to public sector layoffs that could help pave the way for Alberta’s NDP victory in the 2023 provincial elections.

“All the new Democrats will have to do in the 2023 campaign is remind voters,” he said. “In early January 2023, the NDP might come in and say, ‘They can’t rule,’ and everything will fall into place.”

With files by Dan Grummett from CTV News Edmonton



Paula Fonseca