Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Trudeau, B.C. Premier Dodge Kinder Morgan Dispute in First Meeting

  • Horgan says he’ll ‘manage’ pipeline issues in weeks ahead
  • Canadian PM wants dispute settlement system in new Nafta

British Columbia’s new Premier John Horgan said he’ll review his options before deciding whether or how to resist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline through his province.

Horgan and Trudeau struck a collaborative tone after a meeting in Ottawa Tuesday, with both telling reporters where they plan to work together. Horgan said they focused on how to fight forest fires and a crisis related to opioid abuse, while Trudeau began to hint at his priorities in upcoming U.S. trade talks.

The premier, who took power earlier this month, struck another conciliatory note on resource development and suggested he was dropping his predecessor’s push to ban thermal coal shipments in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber. Meanwhile, the issue of the pipeline expansion -- which would carry Alberta crude to the Pacific coast -- was barely mentioned.

“Where we disagree on the Trans Mountain pipeline, I’ve yet to have a thorough briefing,” Horgan said, adding he’d review both legal options and provincial permitting needs in the weeks ahead. “We’ll manage those issues in the fullness of time.”

Trudeau approved the pipeline last fall while rejecting another that would have gone through Horgan’s province. He stuck by the position Tuesday and said the decision was made on facts and evidence.

“We’re going to continue to stand by the decisions we took,” he said. “We’re focusing on growing the economy and protecting the environment at the same time.”

U.S. Trade Disputes

The two leaders discussed lingering trade disputes, chiefly over Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S., with Horgan arguing Canada needed a fair deal. The premier declined to say when he expects an agreement to be reached.

Horgan, who will travel to Washington this week to work on the softwood file, also backed off an effort by former Premier Christy Clark to ban U.S. shipments of thermal coal from being routed through her province. “There was some saber rattling during an election campaign on that and I believe that linkages on trade matters are best in the hands of the negotiators” at the federal level, Horgan told reporters.

Shares of Westshore Terminals Investment Corp., the Canadian export terminal operator, jumped as much as 17 percent, the most in seven years, after Horgan’s comments.

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are also preparing for North American Free Trade Agreement talks due to begin next month. Asked about his priorities, Trudeau signaled Canada wants to stick to a hard-won dispute settlement system. “A fair dispute resolution is essential for any trade deal Canada signs on to,” he said.

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