Braid: Trudeau accuses Horgan of trying to wreck national climate plan

The noted boxer Justin Trudeau has come out swinging against John Horgan, accusing the B.C. premier of trying to wreck the national climate action plan.

“John Horgan is actually trying to scuttle our national plan on fighting climate change,” the prime minister said Tuesday, in a remarkable interview in Ottawa with the online publication The National Observer.

“By blocking the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he’s putting at risk the entire national climate change plan, because Alberta will not be able to stay on if the Kinder Morgan pipeline doesn’t go through,” Trudeau continued.

“And you will get politicians who are picking and choosing parts of the national plan they don’t like, and if we don’t continue to stand strongly in the national interest, the things that people don’t like within the agreement — which is always filled with compromises — are going to mean that there is no agreement, and there is no capacity to reach our climate targets.”

Many Albertans have been waiting for weeks to hear the PM say something — anything — directly critical of Horgan’s effort to kill a federally approved pipeline. Premier Rachel Notley has been begging the feds to come out of their neutral corner.

Trudeau turned out to be tougher than anyone would have expected. This was a direct attack on Horgan by name, painting him as an intentional enemy of climate change action, a serious affront to an NDP leader. 

Trudeau even linked Horgan to foes such as former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.

He said: “Brad Wall, in his opposition to the national plan on climate change, has been endangering or trying to prevent that national plan from going through, even though he likes the fact that it got pipelines approved. He doesn’t like the national price on carbon.”

And Horgan, “similarly and frustratingly,” risks the same result through his pipeline obstruction in B.C.

Here’s another jolt from the PM: 

“If the Kinder Morgan pipeline doesn’t go through, Alberta will withdraw its support for the national plan on climate change. We will not have them fighting to reach their carbon targets, and we will not, then, have them as partners in reaching our Paris targets.”

Trudeau clearly means that if the pipeline fails, the United Conservative Party will win Alberta’s provincial election next year, and Jason Kenney will walk away from the carbon tax and other key climate change measures.

“We know that we need to have active leadership from across the country,” Trudeau added.

“Yes, the federal backstop means that there will be a price on carbon right across the country, regardless — but it becomes a lot more difficult when a key player like Alberta decides to turn its back on the fight against climate change. The issue that people are overlooking is, they all have to tie together.”

Notley has always said that pulling at the threads of climate action could unravel the whole strategy.

Some people would like that happen, of course. But linking John Horgan to them is a sure way to make him squirm.

Trudeau is clearly trying to catch the ear of centrist British Columbians who might be uneasy about Kinder Morgan but also value the larger national program.

The PM’s message is: you get both or neither.

He says the whole climate plan would have been impossible without Notley and the Alberta NDP. The Kinder Morgan expansion, in return for Alberta’s leadership on climate, “was clearly part of the equation.”

“Alberta right now is led by a premier who has done things that no premier has ever been able to do, and it was always a trade-off … It all holds together.”

Essentially, Trudeau paints Horgan as the ultimate member of a coastal elite, ready to destroy a national climate policy in order to placate interest groups in his own backyard.

Horgan, meanwhile, is now threatening a Supreme Court challenge to prove that once a pipeline crosses his provincial border, the contents are his to ban as he sees fit.

Trudeau might soon have another lecture in mind. The one about constitutional deniers.

Don Braid

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