'The federal government has a responsibility to bring Canadians together,' PM says in Lima
Efforts to see the Trans Mountain pipeline through to completion are not about punishing people from B.C., but about ensuring a project in the national interest gets built, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday at the close of the Summit of the Americas in Lima.
"This is not about punishing British Columbians, this is not about hurting Canadians, this is about bringing forward a project in the national interest," he said.
At the summit's closing news conference in Peru, Trudeau said Sunday's meeting between himself and the premiers of B.C. and Alberta will be about bringing people together.
"Although there are folks on all sides of this debate who've looked to polarize and raise the temperature on this debate, the federal government has a responsibility to bring Canadians together and to do things that are in our national interest," he said.
"We will do it in such a way that doesn't seek to further polarize or raise the temperature in this debate. We are looking to continue to bring people together. We will continue to do things that are responsible to get this pipeline built."
Trudeau had initially planned to travel from Peru to Paris before moving on to London, where he is scheduled to have an audience with the Queen.
Even as Trudeau prepared to leave for Lima on Thursday, he wasn't scheduled to meet with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier Jon Horgan, but that changed while his plane was still on the runway when notice of the meeting was released to the media.
"It became very clear that the level of polarization around this debate required significant measures," Trudeau said of the change to his itinerary.
"I wanted to be able to sit down with the premier of British Columbia, the premier of Alberta together and discuss issues of the national interest and demonstrate the federal government's' commitment to getting this project built."
Notley did not speak with the media, but Horgan spoke with CBC News shortly after his arrival at Macdonald–Cartier International Airport in Ottawa.
"My objectives are to continue to defend B.C.'s coast and the people that live in British Columbia who are concerned about the catastrophic consequences of a diluted bitumen spill," he said.
Horgan said his government is attempting the resolve the issue through the courts, rather than by engaging in open conflict with other governments, but suggested he might be willing to listen to compromises that did not include a court-determined settlement.