Justice minister can‘t say if or when pipeline legislation coming

OTTAWA – Days before the deadline given by Kinder Morgan for reassurance from Ottawa that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion can go ahead, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould won‘t say when — or even if — legislation is coming.

She would only say the federal government’s decision will be known "as soon as possible, as soon as practicable," in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.

Following the April 15 summit with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan, Trudeau said the federal government was "actively pursuing legislative options that will assert, thus reinforce, the government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter which we know we clearly have."

Trudeau said the government was "working on the legislative options as we speak" that would be presented as soon as it was ready.

"It will be associated with ensuring that it is clear and certain that this pipeline will be built,"

As of the House rising on Friday, no legislation had yet to be tabled, leaving the federal government four days this coming week to do so — if they intend to.

"We‘re considering all options, as the prime minister has said with respect to our discussions with Kinder Morgan. My role as the Attorney General is to provide legal advice to the government, which I have," Wilson-Raybould said.

Senate bill in limbo

Wilson-Raybould wouldn’t say whether the federal government plans to support the legislation already before the House, which would declare the project "to be for the general advantage of Canada."

Passed by the Senate last week, the from Independent Sen. Doug Black, is being championed by Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs. In order for it to become law it has to pass both chambers of Parliament, and typically it requires a deliberate push from the government and support from all sides to see bills of this nature moved through quickly.

Not ruling out going to Supreme Court

Wilson-Raybould said speeding up the process for a Supreme Court reference on B.C.‘s Court of Appeal jurisdictional reference case is an option that she was “not saying yes or no to right now.”

The federal government is intervening in that case, and so far they have participated in one judicial case management discussion, she said.

"We‘re confident in our jurisdiction with respect to inter-provincial pipelines, we have intervened in the reference case that has been brought forward, but our plans and our assurances that the pipeline will be built, are moving forward," she said.

Wilson-Raybould said decisions had yet to be made about getting involved in other court cases surrounding the pipeline and the ongoing dispute between the provinces.

‘We believe in the right to lawful protest‘

Asked to comment on how the federal government intends to respond to protests at the pipeline construction site should the project forge ahead, Wilson-Raybould said: “We believe in the right to lawful protest. That’s how many major issues and shifts in our society have occurred and changed over time.”