Braid: After Morneau’s blast, Horgan doesn’t get why people are upset


B.C. Premier John Horgan insists: “I do not believe I have been provocative in any way.”

Really. He said that.

Surrounded by wildly provoked neighbours, he denies he’s the kid who broke the window.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau blasted Horgan a half-dozen times Wednesday, by name, accusing him of blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline with “unconstitutional” tactics.

The federally approved pipeline “is being thwarted on purpose by Premier Horgan,” Morneau said, rejecting the premier’s argument that B.C. is just testing its powers in the courts.

“This is impossible for a private-sector actor to deal with,” Morneau added.

Morneau was careful not to censure Horgan’s province or its people. He blamed only the man and his party, the NDP.

Then he praised Premier Rachel Notley for Alberta’s climate-change plan, especially the hard cap on oilsands emissions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first tested the attack mode in February, in a curious interview with the online publication The National Observer.

“John Horgan is actually trying to scuttle our national plan on fighting climate change,” Trudeau said.

“By blocking the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he’s putting at risk the entire national climate-change plan.”

It sounded like the start of an aggressive campaign. But the personal rhetoric quickly softened. The feds worried about provoking a pro-Horgan backlash.

Three months later, it’s clear that support for the pipeline is rising in B.C. Horgan seems increasingly isolated. Kinder Morgan’s artificial deadline, May 31, has amped up the stakes for everyone, especially Ottawa.

Morneau cut loose at Horgan, even as he threw the whole pipeline deal onto the open market.

“We think plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project, especially knowing that the federal government believes it is in the best interests of Canadians and is willing to provide indemnity to make sure it gets built,” he said.

The timing on Wednesday — just an hour before Kinder Morgan Canada held its annual general meeting in Calgary — wasn’t just a hint. It was more like a slap in the face.

The feds aren’t as irritated by Kinder Morgan as they are by Horgan; but it’s getting close.

They have not been happy with apparent company efforts to push up the price as we approach its deadline.

On Wednesday, Morneau showed that Ottawa isn’t about to pay just any amount to keep Kinder Morgan on the job.

He also signalled that the company’s May 31 deadline may not be absolute after all.

What investors would be qualified to take over?

We could start with Enbridge Inc. and Trans Canada Corp., both headquartered in Calgary. It’s been reported that Enbridge is already involved in talks.

Listen hard and you might hear the hoots of laughter from downtown offices.

Both companies have been denied tidewater pipelines by the Trudeau government. Enbridge lost Northern Gateway to federal cancellation. Trans Canada abandoned Energy East after Ottawa said downstream emissions would count against the project.

Now Ottawa might offer up a Trans Mountain project all approved and primed to go, along with the promise of federal money to offset political hostility.

This would be an irony served on a silver platter, with a bow on top.

Also on Wednesday, the Alberta government passed Bill 12, which allows control over oil and gas exports and thus strangulation of supply to B.C.

B.C. has said for some time it will sue