KANANASKIS, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he still opposed a crude oil pipeline traveling through a British Columbia rainforest but declined to speculate on whether a changed route for Enbridge Inc’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would work.
Trudeau and his cabinet came under pressure from the energy-dependent province of Alberta during a cabinet meeting in the landlocked province, with Premier Rachel Notley pressing her case for pipelines to help bring Alberta oil to tidewater.
Asked whether his Liberal government would be open to the Northern Gateway pipeline if the terminus in British Columbia was changed from Kitimat to Prince Rupert, Trudeau said his determination to protect the environment was firm and declined to speculate on hypothetical routes.
He reiterated that the Great Bear Rainforest, though which the oil would travel, “is no place for a crude pipeline.”
Northern Gateway would carry Alberta oil sands crude to a deepwater port in British Columbia.
“There is no (change) in my thinking, my thinking has always been we need to get our resources to market but we need to do that in responsible, sustainable, thoughtful ways,” Trudeau told reporters.
“The previous government refused to understand you cannot separate what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy.”
The slump in oil prices has hit Canada’s economy, especially in the province of Alberta which is tied to the energy sector, and has increased pressure from some quarters to get pipelines built.
Notley, whose left-leaning New Democrat government has worked to improve relations with Ottawa, appealed to Trudeau and his cabinet over the weekend to support efficient ways to get oil to market. Notley said she came away from the meeting with the feeling they were on the same page about pipelines and environmental concerns.
Reporting by Andrea Hopkins, writing by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli