Justin Trudeau and ‘The Pipeline’

How he brought about this situation — and can’t get out.

Abhinav Dholepat
4 min readFeb 28, 2020


Justin Trudeau Announcing The Approval Of The Pipeline

On August 31st 2018, The Trudeau government purchased the Trans-Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 Billion. This move created a paradox between Justin Trudeau’s words and actions. Until then, Trudeau and his government had given air and attention to the environmental protestors choosing actively to not impose their federal powers in order to approve and build the pipeline. Many articles can be found with focuses on the actual ‘pros’, ‘cons’ and other opinions on the environmental impact of the pipeline. This article will explore the political developments since and the consequences in terms of political capital and power.

When Trudeau ran in 2015, he ran as a self proclaimed feminist, environmentalist and progressive. During this time there were pipeline protestors in both the US and Canada (in the US it was against the Dakota pipeline, while in Canada it was Trans Mountain). The Obama Administration tight rope walked their response in order to generate as little focus on the protests as possible. In the end, during the last month of his presidency he blocked the pipeline, realistically knowing that the pro-natural-gas President Trump would simply lift the block. Justin Trudeau on the other hand gave air to these protests in Canada by refusing to exert federal jurisdiction — as the constitution allows the federal government to exert their jurisdiction in matters that concern multiple provinces.

By granting importance to these protestors in order to continue his image as the progressive politician, he initially gained some success. However, the irony of the situation was not lost on the public. At the provincial level, the British Colombia Government (Which was being governed by the NDP — New Democratic Party) was opposed to the pipeline based on concerns about the environmental impact and First Nations people. The neighbouring province, Alberta, which was also governed by the NDP was outwardly supporting the pipeline due to economic concerns — Oil is a major economic contributor to the economy of Alberta and to Canada through its equalisation payments. The economic and political situation reached a peak when the Canadian Government acquired the pipeline for $4.5 Billion. They did not actually acquire a physical pipeline, instead…