Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in the UK on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, but he couldn’t dodge the controversial Trans Mountain oil pipeline issue back home.
Members of Greenpeace UK set up an artificial pipeline labelled “Crudeau Oil” outside the Canadian High Commission building.
The name is a reference to the pipeline, supported by Trudeau, that would carry bitumen from the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta west to the British Columbia (B.C.) coast for shipping to countries across the Pacific Ocean.
The pipeline proposal has pitted one province against another.
The government of British Columbia has vowed the pipeline will never be built across its territory because of environmental concerns and Wednesday filed a case in court to determine if it can prevent the project.
“This process is about B.C.’s right under the Constitution to regulate against deleterious impacts on the environment, on the economy, on the provincial interests,” B.C. Attorney General David Eby told reporters back in Canada.
Meanwhile, the government of Alberta said it would pass legislation that would give the government the power to limit oil and gas exports, including to the province of B.C. That would send the price of gas soaring for B.C. residents.
Some say the feud is building a constitutional crisis for Canada.
On Sunday, Trudeau met with the premiers of both provinces and afterwards reiterated his federal government’s stance that the pipeline will go ahead.
“The Trans Mountain expansion is a vital strategic interest to Canada – it will be built,” he told reporters.
That the world is watching was evidenced by the presence of about 30 Greenpeace protesters in London on Wednesday.
“Many, many people oppose this, including (Indigenous) First Nations, the province of British Columbia, the residents of (the cities of) Vancouver and Burnaby,” said Greenpeace UK campaigns director Pat Vendetti. “And we’re here to support them and to say if Mr. Trudeau wants to be a climate leader, he has to leave pipelines out of it.”
Trudeau has made climate change a major focus as Canada this year assumes the presidency of the G7 industrialized group of nations, which consists of countries representing major world economies.
By Barry Ellsworth in Trenton, Canada