Will Trudeau promote pipelines and make the NEB respect your property rights?

Pipeline Politics

 Canada’s 42nd federal election is finally over.

Justin Trudeau is in with a majority and Stephen Harper, styled by some the “pipeline prime minister,” is out.

CAEPLA of course is non-partisan but that won’t stop us asking what you and pipeline landowners across the country are wondering right now: what will the Trudeau Liberal government mean for pipelines and property rights in Canada.

No new major pipeline projects were completed on Mr. Harper’s nearly ten year watch, despite the moniker.

We already know PM-elect Trudeau is supportive of TransCanada’s controversial and long delayed Keystone XL, the Canadian leg of which was completed with CAEPLA’s assistance and without incident nearly a decade ago.

Mr. Trudeau has also said he would “send Enbridge back to the drawing board” on Northern Gateway (Source: ResourceWorks Newsletter), adding “I am, however, very interested in the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline that is making its way through — I certainly hope that we’re going to be able to get that pipeline approved.”

It appears the incoming prime minister is generally supportive of pipeline development and is on record as saying we need more resource development to create jobs for the middle class he put at the centre of his platform.

Interestingly, a minor controversy during the election over revelations a top Liberal operative was offering advice to TransCanada on how to lobby government to get Energy East built failed to derail the party’s electoral fortunes.

This could indicate popular opposition to the project is not particularly strong and that Trudeau himself will be given a lot of latitude by the public when it comes to high profile pipeline projects.

Indeed left of centre parties like the Liberals are often politically more able to “get away” with implementing “right wing” policies than Conservatives are – case in point the Paul Martin Liberals being more hawkish on the fiscal front than Mulroney ever was.

So if we can be reasonably confident a Trudeau administration will approve major pipelines – albeit with tougher environmental rules, or the appearance of same, along with better salesmanship — sometime soon, what might this mean for the property rights of pipeline landowners looking to participate in a new energy transport boom?

This is a significant question given Mr. Trudeau’s pledge to reform the National Energy Board (NEB).

Could respect for property rights become criteria for the Board along with yet more environmental consideration?

This is not as farfetched as it might sound.

Justin Trudeau has made it clear he is a proud champion of the Charter – his father Pierre was its architect, after all.

What is not commonly known especially among conservative minded Canadians is that the elder Turdeau had originally wanted to include property rights in the document.

That they were left out has been a bone of contention for conservatives and property rights advocates ever since.

The second Prime Minister Trudeau has an opportunity to complete his father’s Constitutional vision in a way that benefits landowners, industry and the economy as a whole.

And the first best opportunity Mr. Trudeau has to do so would be repealing the NEB’s powers of expropriation and allow landowners and industry to partner in the ‘win-win’ business agreements CAEPLA advocates.