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Will Trudeau cut Trump’s lifeline to Alberta?

Donald Trump has thrown a lifeline to Alberta by announcing that he will issue a presidential permit allowing the Alaska to Alberta Railway (A2A) to be built. This railway would link certain Alaska deep-water ports with Fort McMurray, the hub of Alberta’s oil sands industry.

Although the railway would provide service for various kinds of freight in either direction, its most important effect would be to provide a new pathway for the export of bitumen from Alberta's oil sands. In other words, Trudeau's tanker ban would be circumvented by having Alberta's oil exported to Asian markets from an American port. This is exactly what Alberta needs to ensure future exports and prosperity for the province.

Unfortunately, the project still faces significant regulatory hurdles in both the US and Canada. A2A would involve almost 2600 kilometres of track extending from Alaska, through the Yukon and Northwest Territories into northern Alberta. Therefore, territorial and provincial governments, as well as the federal government, will be involved in an environmental-impact assessment. First Nations stakeholders must also be consulted.

But the worst part may be getting project approval from the Liberal government. Even if the environmental and First Nations components are successfully navigated, there’s still Justin Trudeau to consider. Here is a man who has openly stated he wants oil sands production phased out, and who hates Alberta as well. His own inclination would undoubtedly be to thwart the project, and his current alliance with the anti-oil NDP would make that even more likely. Therefore, nobody should be surprised if he blocks this railway and kills the dreams of countless Westerners once again.



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