Trudeau's 'weakness and fear' over blockades, Teck mine driving away investment, says Scheer

Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer today accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of driving away energy sector investment, saying his “weakness and fear” in dealing with opponents of oilsands development killed the Teck Frontier project “through delay and by constantly moving the goalposts.”

Scheer’s office issued a statement today after speaking with Trudeau earlier Monday. In it, Scheer claims Trudeau showed “weak leadership” in his response to rail blockades and argues the resulting “political unrest” led Vancouver-based Teck Resources to withdraw its application to build a massive oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

“Highlighting how Mr. Trudeau’s weakness and fear in dealing with his left-wing caucus and radical activists forced him to kill this project through delay and by constantly moving the goalposts, Mr. Scheer asked the prime minister why the Teck Frontier Project approval sat on his desk since July,” said the statement from Scheer’s office.

The statement goes on to say that “the prime minister’s weakness over the last few weeks has sent a signal to businesses across Canada that the rule of law will not be upheld, court injunctions will not be enforced and major projects cannot get built.”

The statement says Trudeau has to take stronger action before protests “shut down the economy completely.”

Some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, opposed to a natural gas pipeline being constructed through their territory, have prevented workers from Coastal GasLink from entering their territory in northern B.C. That defiance has inspired other activists and Indigenous groups to launch railway and port blockades that have restricted the transport of goods across the country. 

After two weeks of protests, Trudeau said last week that efforts to engage in dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs had failed and it was time for the barricades to come down.

“We cannot have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures,” Trudeau said.

It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.– Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

This morning, the Ontario Provincial Police began moving against the rail blockade near Belleville, Ont., where protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga have crippled passenger and freight train traffic.

The Mohawks have since moved their protest onto Route 132, blocking the Mercier Bridge outside Montreal. Police actions are ongoing.

Scheer has criticized Trudeau’s decision to not order police action sooner, saying the climate of lawlessness is driving energy investment away from Canada and into other countries, including the United States.

Teck calls it quits

Teck Resources Ltd. announced it had withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta on Sunday, citing the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada.

The federal government was to issue a decision this week on whether to approve the $20.6-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Teck Frontier mine.

Two First Nations women hug on the south side of the blockade train tracks in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., today, as they protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs attempting to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline on their traditional territories. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

The company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the project, which it said would have created 7,000 construction jobs and 2,500 operating jobs while bringing in more than $70 billion in government revenue.

Cabinet was expected to discuss the project at its meeting on Tuesday. It had until the end of the week to make a decision, though it could have decided to push that deadline back.

The project was expected to produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over its 40 year lifespan, and disturb 292 square kilometres of pristine wetlands and boreal forest.

In July 2019, a joint federal-provincial review panel recommended the mine be approved, saying the economic benefits outweighed what it described as significant adverse environmental impacts.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described Teck’s announcement as a grave disappointment for Albertans.

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” Kenney said in an emailed statement, highlighting Trudeau’s approach to the blockades.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, accused Trudeau of going too far by demanding the barricades come down.

“Everyone involved, from hereditary chiefs to the CEOs, are looking to find a peaceful de-escalation. Everyone except the prime minister, who’s taking notes from Andrew Scheer,” Singh said on Twitter. “Violent and reckless actions repeat a history that divides people even more.”

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