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Diane Francis: U.S. interference has been even more damaging than China's

031023-Trans-Mountain-Costs_20230310
031023-Trans-Mountain-Costs_20230310

The Trans Mountain pipeline boondoggle is another reason why Canadians need protection and laws against foreign political influence and interference. Only this fiasco involves American influence, not Chinese.

The pipeline has been in operation since 1953 carrying oil and refined products between Edmonton and Burnaby. A second pipeline that runs adjacent to the original one was completed in 2008. In 2013, the company decided to “twin” the pipeline system and triple its capacity.

The original estimated cost for the project was $5.4 billion. Now the price tag of the unfinished pipeline has skyrocketed to $30.9 billion because municipal and provincial governments, environmentalists and First Nations — financed by American anti-oil interests — declared war on the project. A decades-long campaign of harassment, lobbying and litigation ensued, preventing its completion. By May 2018, its owner, Houston’s Kinder-Morgan, gave up and sold the line to the Canadian federal government for $4.5 billion.

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This changed nothing. Obstruction continued, led by the San Francisco-based outfit called Stand.earth, which is funded by American foundations. In a March 10 press release, the group boasted: “Trans Mountain pipeline costs soar to $30 billion. Pipeline construction skyrockets, en route to being largest boondoggle in Canadian history.”

This American outfit has cost Canadian taxpayers tens of billions despite the fact that the pipeline, which was approved by the National Energy Board, is legally permitted to carry a legal commodity, oil, to the West Coast for export. Stand.earth is funded by such American donors as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, 11th Hour Project, The Sunrise Project and the Park Foundation, among others. These foreign entities should not be allowed to interfere in Canada’s economic development process and its politics, but they do so then brag about the degree of harm they have caused. Just imagine if, for instance, Canadian entities set out to purposely sabotage American industries?

Such trade obstructionism by foreigners should be illegal in Canada, and should be pursued as a breach of the USMCA, or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

But American activists have poked their noses into Canada’s resource sector for years, as has Russia indirectly, in order to strand the oilsands, the world’s third largest reserve of petroleum. Instead of protecting and leveraging this incredible resource endowment, the Trudeau government has done nothing to fend them off despite investing in Trans Mountain.

What is wrong with Justin Trudeau? American interference is as unacceptable as Chinese or Russian. He should invoke “national interest” measures to complete the line but hasn’t. Does the Liberal-NDP coalition not realize that the oilsands are key to North America’s energy security in a world that will rely on oil for decades to come?

Stand.earth and its American funding has been more damaging to Canada than any meddling by China. It has an office in B.C. but, according to its website, it offers only U.S. tax receipts https://stand.earth/donate/ for donors, and states “please note that in Canada we are not a registered charity, and do not issue tax receipts. After you donate, you will receive an acknowledgement email for your records.”

Only Canadians should determine what goes on in our country. But that’s not the case under Trudeau. In 2021, a public inquiry proved that between 2003 and 2019, a collection of foreign entities spent $1.28 billion on “Canadian-based environmental initiatives” that included work to impede Canadian energy development.

Foreigners should never influence Canadian policies and politics, sabotage our economy and trade, or clutter our courts. Period.

Read and sign up for Diane Francis’ newsletter at dianefrancis.substack.com.