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Letters to the Editor May 31: In the national interest, or a Faustian bargain? Letters to the editor assess the Trans Mountain deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Canadian Transformational Infrastructure Summit in Toronto on Tuesday May 29, 2018.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Once upon a time, the authority to make major decisions for Canada was clearly vested in Parliament and the elected government. These days, it seems that this responsibility has devolved to the courts. The fact that the Government of Canada has had to take the unprecedented step of purchasing a major infrastructure asset in order to exercise its authority reflects worryingly on the state of Canada’s democracy.

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Anton R. Miller, Vancouver

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We are advocates of the pipeline, as are many British Columbians – I won’t get into how we feel about Premier John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver’s ridiculous stance against it – but we are not advocates of the use of billions of taxpayer dollars to buy Trans Mountain, expand the pipeline and then sell it back to some unknown investors (and I would bet money on this) for half of what it cost.

Justin Trudeau should have put his “big boy pants on” and made B.C. follow the rule of law where the federal government had the right to push through this project. That way, Kinder Morgan would be shouldering the cost.

Is there no end to the debt this party will put us, our children and grandchildren into?

Gail Revesz, Nanaimo, B.C.

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The fine print on Kinder Morgan’s security filings warned its investors last year that serious progress on achieving the Paris climate agreement’s decarbonization goals would reduce oil demand, and thus oil companies might not be able to honour their contracts with Kinder Morgan or sign new ones. So Ottawa has bought itself a pipeline that only succeeds economically if the Paris agreement fails. Quite the Faustian bargain.

Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

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As a 34-year employee at a bitumen upgrader located near Fort McMurray, I am extremely disappointed with the ongoing efforts of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and their Conservative predecessors to increase bitumen exports rather than putting a similar amount of time, effort and possibly money into convincing the oil companies to build a large bitumen-upgrader near Edmonton.

I suspect public support for the Trans Mountain expansion would decrease substantially if the public were repeatedly informed that this is essentially a bitumen pipeline, and that the main beneficiaries are countries in Asia that will be provided with a reliable supply of raw material (bitumen) that they can upgrade into higher quality crude. I continue to hope that one of the governments, or the federal NDP, or perhaps The Globe and Mail will commission an impartial comparison (perhaps by the University of Alberta or the University of Calgary) of the short-term and long-term economic benefits for Albertans and other Canadians associated with the design, construction, operation and maintenance of either the Trans Mountain expansion, or a large new bitumen upgrader in the Edmonton area.

Larry LeMesurier, Fort McMurray, Alta.

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Kudos to Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government for making the courageous decision to take over the Trans Mountain project.

This is an important investment in the Canadian economy which will benefit all Canadians. With regard to environmental risks, I suggest everyone read Objective Facts Are Key To Balancing The Pipeline Debate (Report on Business, May 29). No prime minister has been more aware, and supportive of, the importance of environmental protection. Which makes the decision even more courageous. This is the kind of leadership we need, in the interest of all Canadians.

Bruce Walker, Oakville, Ont.

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Because the federal government didn’t have the courage to exercise its constitutional powers, taxpayers will be liable for a $4.5-billion debt. Justin Trudeau makes former Ontario premier Dalton McGunity’s $1-billion charge to that province’s taxpayers to cancel contracts for two gas plants look like child’s play. Mr. McGuinty was trying to avoid lost seats in a forthcoming election. Might we think Mr. Trudeau’s action has been similarly motivated?

Joe O’Brien, Halifax

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This decision flies in the face of everything we know about the need to protect our planet. I am deeply ashamed that my country is embarking on this disastrous route.

I will be casting my ballot elsewhere than the Liberal Party in the next election – in the direction of the Green Party, which has shown itself to have a much greater conscience than the current leadership in the Liberal Party.

I feel helpless and betrayed by this reckless decision.

Heidi Reid, Vancouver

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Imagine it’s 1903. There are 178 cars registered in Ontario; apart from railways, land transportation is almost entirely the province of horse-drawn vehicles.

Now suppose you had a choice between investing in a saddlery or a garage; which would you have chosen? Most people, of course, would have put their money into the saddlery, which was clearly the more important industry.

So today, the federal government is investing in oil pipelines, instead of alternative energy. Kinder Morgan is off the hook, and probably laughing all the way to the bank. Canadians have bought a saddlery, but most people (including the PM) apparently won’t be aware of it for another 20 years or so.

Susan Berlin, Lanark, Ont.

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The federal government should be subject to full disclosure when it enters into a material contract to buy a major private sector enterprise and intervenes directly to conduct commercial business.

The contracts to nationalize Trans Mountain, and accompanying commitments and assurances should be placed on the public file within 10 days of the agreement.

The federal Department of Finance should also disclose the advice it received that the purchase price was fair from a financial point of view, and disclose the basis on which that price was determined. Any amendments to such arrangements should be publicly filed on a timely basis.

Garfield Emerson, Toronto

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So why didn’t our Liberal government buy Energy East? There would be no threat of a tanker disaster resulting in a catastrophic oil spill, with adverse impact on fisheries, beaches, tourism and First Nations lands.

I suppose the only major threat apparent with buying Energy East is in Parliament, because there are 40 sitting Liberal MPs from Quebec, and 18 from British Columbia.

Morley Lertzman, North Vancouver

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The ability of governments, federal and provincial, to mismanage energy files never ceases to astonish. Plus ça change …

Sarah Pelletier, Montreal

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So, the Canadian government is going to buy, expand and operate a pipeline. To solve a major dilemma, someone in government must have declared: “Let’s just do it ourselves! Anyone who can operate a payroll system should be able to manage an oil company. What could go wrong?”

George Dunbar, Toronto

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