By Medicine Hat News Opinon on June 2, 2018.
The federal government has struggled for years with routine managerial functions, such as paying its employees the right amount of money each pay period.
Oddly enough, on the day the federal government announced it was nationalizing the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Canada’s auditor general called the government’s Phoenix pay system, an “incomprehensible failure.”
And yet now we’re to believe the federal government will be able to competently operate an existing pipeline and build something as complex as a new $7.4 billion pipeline?
There’s no way this will end well for taxpayers.
And to be clear, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation fully supported Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.
It should have been a huge win for our country — thousands of new jobs, an economic boost to our economy and billions in new tax dollars to help pay for government services.
But best of all, it was a private sector initiative. That meant Kinder Morgan bore the risk for delivering the project on time and on budget. If the price of steel went up during construction or if a union working on the project demanded more money — that would have been Kinder Morgan’s problem to solve.
But all that has changed. Now taxpayers will foot the bill should such problems arise.
It never should have come to this. Had the federal government spent more time and energy supporting Kinder Morgan in the first place, and exercised its constitutional powers, this project could have been completed without putting taxpayers on the hook.
Instead, the federal government seemed more preoccupied over the past year with silly distractions — a temporary ice rink on Parliament Hill, planning the dozen outfits for the Prime Minister during his India trip, etc. On the surface, Ottawa looked completely apathetic towards supporting what would have been a very good project for our country.
Sadly, this debacle has unfolded amid a backdrop of disdain for oil and gas by the federal government.
First, Prime Minister Trudeau killed the Northern Gateway pipeline project in late 2016. In early 2017, he went on to tell a town hall in Ontario that he wanted to “phase out” Alberta’s oil sands. Now the federal government will own a pipeline that will transport its product.
Later in 2017 the federal government changed the rules on the Energy East pipeline after TransCanada had already spent a billion dollars working towards its approval. Not surprisingly, the company then cancelled the $16 billion project — a project that would have reduced Canada’s reliance on foreign oil. More jobs lost, more tax dollars up in smoke.
In early 2018, the federal government decided to completely change the process for approving major energy projects and make it harder for them to get off the ground. The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association President told the federal government, “If the goal is to curtail oil and gas production and to have no more pipelines built, this legislation may have hit the mark.”
It now seems clear. The only way the federal government could screw this up worse is if they start paying their new pipeline workers through its disastrous Phoenix payroll system.
Colin Craig is the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation
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