Alberta is still grappling with a host of problems, chief among them sluggish oil prices that are still too low to justify much new investment in the energy sector.
But pipeline woes, while not fully resolved, had at least been moving in the right direction for the province. With federal approval and a permit from British Columbia, Kinder Morgan is set to make a final investment on the Trans Mountain expansion in the coming weeks, with construction possibly starting in the fall.
But as B.C. voters head to the polls on May 9, Trans Mountain is back in flux. Recent polls suggest the NDP is slightly ahead, but with a margin of error that makes the election too close to call.
Nonetheless NDP Leader John Horgan is promising changes that are causing consternation in the oilpatch, one province away.
The Trans Mountain ‘toolbox’
While B.C.’s Liberal government took its time coming around to Trans Mountain, it eventually granted a permit to Kinder Morgan after saying the company had met its conditions of approval.
B.C.’s New Democrats, on the other hand, are firm in their opposition to Trans Mountain.
The NDP’s platform says that if elected, New Democrats will use “every tool in our toolbox” to stop the project from going forward. What that means is unclear.
“There aren’t a lot of tools in that toolbox; the federal government has decided that it’s going to go forward,” said Trevor McLeod, who directs energy policy research at the Canada West Foundation in Calgary.
“Of course, politicians are able to turn those toolboxes over and stand on them and shout loudly and try to convince voters that it’s not a good idea.”
The Kinder Morgan pipeline has not been top of mind in the B.C. election. Voters have been more focused on housing affordability, for both buyers and renters, and more recently, on the personalities of the three party leaders.