Bloc Québécois MP Monique Pauzé lambasted the federal government during Question Period after a report predicted about $17 billion of Trans Mountain’s public debt would be forgiven.
“The government has prepared the books to hide the fact that it continues to pump our money into the Trans Mountain pipeline,” the MP for Repentigny told the House of Commons in French on October 7.
“In the spring, the Minister of Finance announced that the government would no longer spend public money on Trans Mountain. However, West Coast Environmental Law has disclosed that interest on the project debt alone will cost us $750 million this year and $800 million next year,” Pauzé said.
On October 7, Bloc Québécois MP and environment critic Monique Pauzé questioned the government about the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after a report alleged the federal government hid the real amount of debt incurred by the project and the likely cost to taxpayers. Video clip sent by the office of MP Monique Pauzé and posted online by the National Observer of Canada.
The analysis Pauzé is referring to was written by independent economist Robyn Allan, an expert intervenor in the hearing on the Trans Mountain expansion project, and published Oct. 6 by West Coast Environmental Law.
He predicted that the public will eat $17 billion of Trans Mountain’s debt and pointed to strategies that help hide the true amount of debt incurred by the project. These include “accounting witchcraft”, confusing corporate structures and withholding information from the public, Allan told the National Observer of Canada.
In response, Liberal MP Yvonne Jones said: “If you really want to fight climate change, it means taking bold action and investing boldly.
“When you look at a comprehensive plan like the one we have as a government to address climate change, it looks at projects like the TMX,” said Jones, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Canadian Affairs. North. She cited reducing the amount of oil shipped by rail and securing the “full value” of Canada’s oil resources as priorities for TMX.
Pauzé fired back at Jones, criticizing the federal government for pouring public funds into a pipeline project known to be “a financial and environmental disaster” from day one.
Tourism Minister and Associate Finance Minister Randy Boissonnault responded that bringing Canadian oil to market “will help fund the transition to net zero.” He added that the government did not plan to hold TMX long-term and would “pursue a process of divestment.”
Finance Canada has previously declined to answer questions about how TMX will fund the transition to net-zero emissions when all publicly available information indicates it is neither profitable nor commercially viable. The feds routinely cite secret reports from BMO and TD Securities that it says prove TMX is commercially viable, but won’t share specifics. Earlier this year, Canada’s National Monitor found that those reports assumed the pipeline would operate for another 100 years, which many experts, including the Parliamentary Budget Officer, say is unrealistic.
As previously reported by Canada’s National Observer, to cover new debt and project operating costs while realizing profits for investors, the tolls that oil shippers pay to use the pipeline must be increased to point that oil will no longer be competitive, a report by the Institute for Economic and Financial Analysis of Energy found earlier this year.
So far, Finance Canada has refused to directly answer questions about whether debt cancellation is on the table.
Natasha Bulowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer of Canada