Trans Mountain would not be profitable

One of the most bizarre things the Trudeau government has ever said about energy and climate change is that building the Trans Mountain pipeline is necessary for the transition away from fossil fuels because it will raise the money needed to carry it out.

This has always been an absurd proposition. It’s ridiculous on its face that investing billions of tens of billions in fossil fuel export infrastructure which will operate for decades will help Canada do its share to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Now even the financial argument has come under serious criticism. Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux recently estimated that the cost of the project has grown from $12.6 billion in 2020 to $21.4 billion now and concluded that “Trans Mountain no longer continues to be a profitable undertaking.” At the same time, cancelling the project would yield a $14 billion loss.

Neither the federal nor Alberta government is changing course because of this analysis. Chrystia Freeland’s press secretary has said: “The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest and will make Canada and the Canadian economy more sovereign and more resilient.” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said: “This project is necessary for Alberta and Canada’s energy sectors.”

All this is a reminder of how the behaviour a government needs to follow to stay in power does not consist of serving the public interest or putting forward a coherent policy agenda, but rather maintaining the support of the key societal actors that the government needs to keep in power.


Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

4 thoughts on “Trans Mountain would not be profitable”

  1. Canada’s case for Trans Mountain assumes the pipeline will operate for 100 years. PBO disagrees

    Secret reports the federal government is relying on to argue the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is commercially viable are based on the unrealistic assumption the pipeline will operate for 100 years, Canada’s financial watchdog told Canada’s National Observer.

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